Thursday, September 17, 2009

Theology Thursday~ Why Theology, Part 4: Theology Must Be God Centered, but Other Oriented

Jesus gave an excellent admonition when he said: “Shema! Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all of your mind and with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37)

Theology begins with the command of The Shema. The way in which Jesus’ version of the Shema commands us to love God is nothing if it is not Unmitigated Awe. One cannot gain wise knowledge of The Almighty without this kind of awe. (Proverbs 9:10, and Psalm 111:10)

“Shema!”- is a command to sit quietly in His presence and listen with all that we are; our journey is sustained through holistic interaction with God (all our parts interacting with all of His) and its natural outcome is twofold: a more intimate understanding of God, and the ability to love others with God-mediated love.

When viewed through the lens of The Shema, theology begins to look very different.

We know the word “theology” means the 'study of God.' The Shema gives us clarification to understand that theology begins with loving God with all that we are. When we do so with all of our parts (heart, soul, mind and strength), we develop an understanding (‘theology’ if you will) that is awe-filled, love-inspired, balanced, and has the capacity to be love-mediated towards others. It is only in giving of our minds to God through the Spirit that this kind of transformation can occur, for we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2). That is not to say that beginning our theology in this manner will lead to a perfect understanding of God. No, “perfect” is unattainable on this side of the veil. However, we can be sure that the awe of God is definitely the beginning of wisdom-a very good start.

Ephesians 1:15-19 is a prayer from the Apostle Paul to the believers in Ephesus. The prayer gives us a good look at the origins of theology, how a good theology is nurtured, and the fiduciary duties of those who are “enlightened” towards the “not yet enlightened.” In stark contrast to the usual pre-conceived perception of the theologian-novice relationship, Paul’s attitude and approach toward the unlearned at Ephesus is accepting at the outset and shows compassion and concern for the “un-enlightened other.”

Ephesians 1:15-19 (Contemporary English Version)
15I have heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God's people.
16So I never stop being grateful for you, as I mention you in my prayers.
17I ask the glorious Father and God of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you his Spirit.
The Spirit will make you wise and let you understand what it means to know God.
18My prayer is that light will flood your hearts and that you will understand
the hope that was given to you when God chose you.
Then you will discover the glorious blessings that will be yours together with all of God's people.
19I want you to know about the great and mighty power that God has for us, His followers...

 Theology should begin with faith, which itself originates from God, himself. (v. 15) (Notice Paul does not say: “knowledge about Jesus…” but “faith in the Lord Jesus…”)

 Theology should be spurred on by companions who are both grateful and prayerful for the other. (v. 16)

 Theological mentoring should always involve a significant amount of prayer for the other. (vs. 16, 17, 18)

 Theology isn’t a purely intellectual endeavor. It requires intervention from the Holy Spirit, and the resultant wisdom then allows for a prayer-generated, supernatural, and “enlightened understanding.” (v. 17)

 This enlightenment also renders an ability to understand our eschatological hope and to discover our Christian inheritance. (v. 18)

 Theological education/mentoring should always be about a heartfelt desire for the other to “know about God’s power” on a personal and communal level (“for us”) (v. 19a)

If theologians actually looked at and approached theology in this light, would polemic and arrogant attitudes exist and abound? Would there be the “incessant quarreling and cold indifference between God-fearing, Bible-believing, Jesus-loving Christians” that Olson speaks of? (Olson, p. 26) And, if shown this passage, how would our collectively-tentative-Christian brethren feel about theology? Would they still be convinced (as Olson astutely asserts) that: “…theology and doctrine are detrimental to Christianity”? (Olson, p.26).

I posit that if we truly understood that theology was a God-initiated enlightenment that was mainly about understanding hope; and that the pursuit of theology is a developmental task that can only (at best) give us a partial view through a dirty window of The Creator; and that theology starts with loving God with all of our hearts, souls minds and strength, and humbly listening for Him to reveal himself- then ‘arrogant’ would be the last word people would use to describe theologians.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Patriot's Day 2009: In Memoriam

Matthew Flocco

Today is the eighth anniversary of September 11, 2001. The media is saturated with pundits that are giving their opinions about the events that occurred that fateful day. I am going to make my points briefly...What happened on 9-11-01 is not about pundits, or politics, or perceptions. It is about PEOPLE. It is about the people that died and their family and friends who will never, ever have them again...In memory of those people, I have attached a list of the names with included biographical information.

Additionally, I'd like to mention one person who died that day who is more special to me because of a connection I have to him. His name is Matthew Flocco. Matt was the only Delwarean to die on 9-11. He was stationed that day at the Pentagon, a huge honor for such a young man, but he had potential and those who knew him knew he was going places. He died that day at the age of 21, robbed of the opprotunity to reach that potential. Matthew was the only child of my parents' next door neighbors. We did not know him when he died, but after the government settled his estate, his parents (his only beneficiaries) bought the house next door to my parents. My parents have grown to know this wonderful couple, Sheila and Michael Flocco, and have felt privileged to walk this part of their journey with them.

Here is a series of videos done by a reporter from the Washington Post and aired on ABC about Micheal, a sheetmetal worker who went down and helped rebuild the pentagon.

Here is his hero page. Please take your time to write a comment. I'm sure it would be especially appreciated by his grieving parents.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Theology Thursday: Part IIIB~ Theology Must be Knowledgable and Charitable Part II

(Part four of a series, continued from last Thursday...)

Thomas á Kempis also said:

“On the day of judgment, surely, we shall not be asked what we have read
but what we have done; not how well we have spoken but how well we have lived.”

All that said, had I not been exposed to a Kempis' writings in seminary, I would not be answering this question in the same way. It would not be wise to discount the acquiring of knowledge, and I am surprised at how much I use my seminary knowledge to apply to current issues- and without exception, the historical knowledge is an asset. Knowledge certainly cannot be discounted, but it must be kept in perspective. Otherwise, arrogance and narcissism will rear their ugly heads and alienation will be the result.

Knowledge and training are tools which are best used to communicate or to ruminate; never to pontificate or debate. When that knowledge is not "love-applied" theology (if the orthodoxy doesn't have a corresponding orthopraxy) then we should beware. For in that moment in which love is dissected from knowledge, lies the very real danger that St. Paul referred to in 1 Cor. 13 (using Eugene Peterson's verbiage) as ‘spiritual bankruptcy’:

"So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.”

Charity and understanding- an irenic approach- is absolutely necessary for theology to be transmitted effectively. When the focus shifts from irenic to polemic, the road to disaster is not far away, and this is where theology often falls flat on its face- it forgets why it is doing what it is doing. It forgets that its goal is to have knowledge and impart that knowledge in order to bless and be blessed. Good theology doesn’t pommel or boast.

More to follow next week...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wellness Wednesday: Invisible Illness Week is Sept. 14-20, 2009

As you may or may not know, I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus seventeen years ago when my oldest son, Alex was still under a year old. For many years, I have lived with fatique, frequent illnesses and chronic pain. Having had the opportunity to experience chronic illness first hand has provided me with so many blessings. Really... I believe that I have become a more compassionate person because of it. It isn't always a cake walk- but it's my walk...

Next week (September 14-20) is Invisible Illness Awareness Week. I will be keeping you updated all week about events, but I want you to be aware of the all week free online conference.

Also, during the course of next week I hope to be able to show you some of the faces of Invisible Illness and provide you with some interviews. For now, here is an introductory video on the subject...

Be Well~

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Riley Needs a New Home

My best friend since I was six years old is in a quandry...her cat Riley is just not fitting into the family's life. They are an "on the go" family and he is often home alone. Since they moved into their new (quite large) home, he has become quite "catitudinal" (def: cat with d; a cat who shows his displeasure in catty kinds of ways)...but he only does this when he's been utterly left alone in a very large house. he is darling, personable and very friendly. He is neutered and declawed and very healthy. Would you be interested in adopting him? Let me know...


Monday, September 7, 2009

Monday Meal Planning 101: Week Two~ Second Week of School:

Last Week’ Shopping List (we try to shop for two weeks- saves on gas energy, my energy, time and impulse shopping):
Meats: 2pkgs. chicken breasts; 2 lb ground beef; 2 pkgs. London broil; Italian Sausage
Frozen veggies- one bag ea: corn, chopped spinach, peas & carrots, whole greenbeans
Hard/thick tortilla chips
2 cans each of cream of chicken & 2 cans cream of mushroom soup (or 2 large cans)
Chicken base ( I prefer “Better Than Bouillon” brand by Superior Touch)
Garlic & Ginger (either fresh, or to save time- buy in tube, in produce section @ grocery)
Cheeses: Mozzarella- shredded; Cheddar- block; Parmesan-grated; Mexican Blend-grated
Dairy: Eggs; sour cream; Milk; Butter
Sausage (patties and links)
Dry pink, red and black beans
Canned tomatoes- diced, crushed and whole (one can each)
Squash (zuchinni)
Italian Bread
English Muffins
Pancake mix
Lawry’s marinade (Caribbean Jerk, Baja Chipotle)
Lettuce, etc (salad fixings: celery, carrots, onion, tomatoes- whatever you like)
Pasta sauce
Cornbread muffins
Stuffing mix

Leftover Spaghetti with Italian Sausage, Salad, Garlic Bread

London Broil marinated in Baja Chipotle marinade; Green Salad, Macaroni and Cheese

Wild Card Wednesday~
Stir fry beef (from leftover London broil) or order in

General Tso’s chicken, rice, broccoli

Freestyle Friday~
Breakfast For Dinner: Pancakes and sausage or order in pizza

Chicken Soup with fresh vegetable, egg noodles, fresh baked bread

English Muffin Open-faced Tuna Melts and Chicken Soup

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Recipes for Missional Living: Part Two

Welcome back to the second part of our series on the excellent book by Anna Robbins, entitled: Sharing the Feast: Recipes for Evangelism and Discipleship for Today’s Church (Spring Harvest, 2005.) (Again, I highly recommend its purchase, it is one of those “need-to-have-it-in-your-library” books.)

Quickly, I’ll review what we’ve gone over so far…The premise of the book is a simple one: “The way we relate the gospel to the world today is much like hosting a dinner party, or serving up a feast.” We are serving up a “feast” for others; some will be familiar with our offerings will come to the table readily; others, because they’re culturally unfamiliar with our ‘fare’ will be hesitant or no-shows to our fêtes if we (the church) continue to serve nothing but the standard, boring fare we have been for centuries. Robbins teaches how to present the gospel to “unfamiliar taste buds” (the un-churched) because it is a necessary part of evangelism and discipleship. She reminds us that there are those who find comfort and peace in having their “pearl onions” every Christmas (enjoy tradition in their faith practices), and who hold onto those traditions with a death grip. These trappings, however, Robbins posits, can be distracting rather than attractive. Although Robbins points out that there is much that is good that should not be discarded simply because it has been ‘sitting around for a long time in the cupboard,’ she emphasizes the need to be able to distinguish between the “staples” of ministry and doctrine from the “seasonal produce” that may or may not need to be added to make the “dish” palatable to an audience from a different culture. She then sets forth a set of principles with regard to “cooking up” opportunities for evangelism and discipleship within and outside of the church utilizing a healthy and fresh combination of “staples from the cupboard’ and “seasonal items”.

Recipes for Missional Living: Part Two

During my first month at the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center, I was informed by a number of people **repeatedly** that I must try Carol’s Jewish Apple Cake. One day, I was promised (by more than one person) that eventually she would bring it in and then I would know how really good a Jewish Apple Cake could be… I looked forward to this event with great anticipation. When the day finally came I cut myself a nice slice and savored that first bite. And then something strange happened…I tasted peach. Yes- peach! It turns out, Carol always substituted peach for apple, and to make matters even more bizarre- (and, normally, this wouldn’t have mattered- except for the peaches…) In fact- Carol was not even Jewish. The cake was undoubtedly delicious, but from there on in, I kidded Carole and the other co-workers that they had all sold me a bill of goods- substituting Carol’s Catholic Peach Cake as a cheap substitution for the “real thing.”

Here’s another scenario…

A friend of mine had a dearly loved recipe for carrot cake. I mean it was the most delicious carrot cake I’d ever had. She gave me the recipe and I made it several times and everywhere I took it- people raved. Then one day, instead of putting three teaspoons of cinnamon, I accidentally put in three Tablespoons. Three friggin’ tablespoons of cinnamon- geez! Well, there was nothing I could do but bake it, so I did. Well, let me tell you- I used the word “was” (as in “it was the most delicious carrot cake recipe I’d ever had”) for a reason…Because now the Three Tablespoon Cake is the best carrot cake in the world. Oh yeah, I mean it. It’s good. Real good. (And if you’re very, very good- I’ll give you the recipe.)

So what’s the point of these two stories?

What I’m trying to articulate is that, in cooking, sometimes you can get away with substitution and addition with only minor alteration to the overall product. Sometimes, however, you end up with an altogether different (albeit palatable) creation.

All joking aside- have you ever tasted something and it was not what you expected? Whether the sensation is good or not, the reaction is similar-“Oh! What is that?”

What if that was the reaction from someone to whom you had been attempting to minister? What you promised to “feed” them was not what they had expected…

What do you do after that- when what is delivered does not meet expectations? Does not fill them…does not fully satisfy?

This is the point that Anna Robbins makes, in her book: Sharing the Feast: Recipes for Evangelism and Discipleship for Today’s Church.

Today, we’ll discuss more in depth Chapter One~ Assembling the Ingredients: from the Store Cupboard.

Robbins starts chapter one with the premise that everyone is spiritual, and hence has beliefs, expectations and a world view which is informed by these (albeit ill-defined and/or ill-informed) beliefs. Everyone has a basic theology, and we all have an answer to the question: “Who am I?” –even if it is “I don’t know” she asserts.

“As Christians,” she further claims, “we base our understanding of God and ourselves on the Bible. We believe the Bible to be a reliable account of God’s dealings with humanity.” These basic beliefs make up the “staple ingredients” with which we prepare our evangelistic/missional/discipleship “feasts.” Robbins instructs us that how we use these staple ingredients will determine and effect the ‘overall flavor and texture’ of what we offer to those who we wish to serve. And so, she cautions, it is with utmost care that we should “take stock” and are consciously aware of the traditional ingredients that we have available for necessary use. We don’t want to ever serve anyone “Christianity-lite”- it might give them the impression that that is all we’ve got- nothing but platitudes and bumper sticker theology. We want, right from the outset, for people to rest safe in the knowledge that the faith we offer has substance and meat; that it’s not cotton candy that tastes good for a moment, but is amorphous and transitory.

Moving Past the Myths that Mess Up the Mix

Robbins asserts that the explanations (“myths”) that spring up in our culture to explain human nature or address certain existential issues frequently go unchallenged by Christians. She cautions that we must address them, and we must know how to do so with a deep understanding and with an ability to respectfully engage the culture.

Here is the list of Myths that we must be capable of understanding and addressing with knowledge and respect:

Creation versus the Myth of Mindless Evolution- we must always include the Creator;
Crash vs. the Myth of Human Goodness- apportion helpful discussions of sin &“the fall”;
Covenant versus the Myth of Creative Distance- incorporate the “God who pursues”;
Christ vs. the Myth of the Good Teacher- never, ever dilute or substitute the Sonship;
Call versus the Myth of Hedonism-too much sweetness and fat ruins the recipe;
Consummation vs. the Myth of Meaninglessness- purpose creates a true existential hope.

Robbins stresses the importance of ensuring the inclusion of all the “staples” (qualities to the above left) but cautions the error of over-stressing them to the point of an unbalanced flavor (she writes “flavour”- she’s a Canadian ex-pat living in London.) There is, she acknowledges, room for diversity with regard to degree of presence of the abovementioned “staples.”

In other words:
We don’t want to serve up Peach Cake when Apple Cake is on the menu; but it may be exceedingly fortuitous to “spice up” the Apple Cake with a generous amount of cinnamon.

Happy “cooking”….more next week.


FreeStyle Friday~ Anything I Wanna Do... Singing the Laments of the Psalms as a Spiritual Discipline

In the imprecatory laments, the petitions can be shockingly horrifying (e.g. individual lament-Psalm 109 and community lament-Psalm 137). On the face of it, one wonders how anyone had the “nerve” to articulate such seemingly vindictive thoughts to God, let alone allow such words to be recorded. But the laments have an essential and marvelous function: by offering them up to God, we have the capacity to see our odious meditations and desperate thoughts transformed into something acceptable (Ps. 19:14), and because we are able to express our feelings toward The Counselor, we are provided with an alternative to outwardly expressing them through either words or actions toward our enemies. As we ventilate our feelings and process them through the filters provided by the Holy Spirit, he searches, tries, sees, and leads us (Psalm 139:23-24) toward healing.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Formation Friday

In studying the Psalms for a seminary class, I was once again struck with the vivid and often vitriolic character of the imprecatory laments (mournful petitions). The petitions can be shockingly horrifying (e.g. Psalm 109 and Psalm 137). In these songs, the Hebrew people ask God to vindicate them by triumphing over their enemies in often graphic and disturbing ways. On the face of it, one wonders how anyone had the “nerve” to articulate such seemingly vindictive thoughts to God, let alone allow such words to be recorded. But the laments have an essential and marvelous function: by offering them up to God, we have the capacity to see our odious meditations and desperate thoughts transformed into something acceptable (Ps. 19:14), and because we are able to express our feelings toward The Counselor, we are provided with an alternative to outwardly expressing them through either words or actions toward our enemies. As we ventilate our feelings and process them through the filters provided by the Holy Spirit, he searches, tries, sees, and leads us (Psalm 139:23-24) toward healing. Practicing lament is not often though of as a productive or acceptable way of processing our thoughts and feelings, but I would suggest that it is a powerfully effective spiritual practice and an essential component of spiritual formation. Moreover, it is a way to truly step forward in faith and trust toward God, for we are trusting Him with our most filthy ugliness in the knowledge that He will love us nonetheless.

Here are some examples of modern day laments:

Here's one by Barlow Girl. It's very beautiful, and touching. Here is an entire album of laments by Michael Card and a page at Calvin Institute for Worship's website about lament and Card's work (both written and recorded) on lament for worship. Finally, I have to include this a haunting 'cover' of "On the Willows" (from Godspell) it is so agonally beautiful…

Grace and Peace~


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Theology Thursday~ Why Theology? Part IIIA: Theology Should Be Both Knowledgeable and Charitable

In order to be able to bless the world, our understanding of God (our theology) has to be on the mark, so to speak. We rightly take our theology very seriously, for as theologian Karl Barth articulated:

"If we get God wrong, we get everything wrong."
Good theology has to be accurate, but it has to be charitable, relevant, meaningful, and attractive as well. That is what it means to be “the aroma of Christ”- our understanding of the Triune God should be such that it is irresistibly compelling. We need to be able to speak the language of those around us, and we need to have eyes that see the world through their eyes. We need to know that they scrutinize our behavior and are well aware of when we are little more than “pew potatoes,” sitting around and ruminating about our theologies and doctrines. We need to be able to move ourselves from our sanctuaries into the world and theologize with our actions. Christian theology is most compelling when it acts out its understanding of God in palpable ways that actually flesh out our oftentimes ambiguous and otherworldly conceptualizations.

It has been said that, too often: “Theology among conservative Evangelicals tends to be about right and wrong propositions.” And also that: “The overriding challenge for the church, for those who wish to identify themselves as disciples of Jesus Christ, is to speak coherently and compellingly to those on the outside. We are not interested, therefore, in promoting further theological in-fighting and polemic. The approach must be respectful and constructive and must be focused primarily on issues relevant to the general goals of the project -in this case, the task of communicating the truth of the gospel in a postmodern environment." partii/

The problem seems to lie in communicating in a coherent manner with a voice that is compelling, rather than repellent; in a manner that is constructive, rather than destructive. This is no easy feat.

We are called to be studious with regard to our faith and practices which reflect upon our righteousness (2 Timothy 2:15; KJV; Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.) Education appears to be the key tool in this area. The Bible tells us that the key to equipping ourselves to do the work that God has for us is to shore ourselves up with The Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ;NIV; All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.)

Understanding what we believe as Christians about God is paramount. But is being a Bible scholar a pre-requisite to being able to engage the world? Do we have to know everything and have an answer for everything? Perhaps not, but we do know that we are expected to be able to give an answer for the reason why we have hope (I Peter 3:15) and most importantly, we are called to do this with gentleness and respect. And so it becomes quite apparent that while theology is a key tool to be used in the transmission of the gospel, there are other tools that must be used in conjunction with this “knowledge of God” for the missio Dei to be received effectively.

Theology is only one of those tools. Having a thorough knowledge of scripture, church history and a broad understanding of theology, (including having an understanding of other theologies) are helpful and essential tools that assist us in practicing the art and craft of ministry. But several very important other tools are also essential, in fact a “thorough knowledge of scripture” cannot be gained without these tools. They are silence, contemplation, receptivity, serenity, and clarity. These are the utilities that authenticate theology. Charity, hospitality, and presence are also tools that cannot be done without. These are the tools that invigorate theology.

I am reminded of The Imitation of Christ by Thomas á Kempis. One of the primary themes of the work is stated this way in chapter one: “Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ.” He further makes clear, however, that studying the life of Christ has as much to do with patterning one’s whole life after Christ, as it has to do with understanding fully his words. “Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just,” á Kempis posits, “but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God.” He follows this with an example:

“I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it.”
Excerpts such as:
“If I knew all things in the world and had not charity,
what would it profit me before God who will judge me by my deeds?
Shun too great a desire for knowledge,
for in it there is much fretting and delusion.
Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise.
Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise. Many words do not satisfy the soul;
but a good life eases the mind and a clean conscience inspires great trust in God.”

One can see the influence this passage had on John Wesley, who said:

“Beware you be not swallowed up in books!
An ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge.”
more to follow...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Family Dinner and Mealtime Tips (For Car Rides, Too)!

Family Dinner Tips:
Keep the conversation positive and inviting. For topics, there's always the standby of asking about everyone's day, but you can also talk about what's in the news or plan future family activities over dinner.

Try these Mealtime Conversation Starters:
1. What one special talent would you like to have?
2. If snow fell in a flavor, what would you want it to be?
3. What is your favorite holiday, and why?
4. Which household chores do you like to do?

Mealtime Tips:
1. Don't feel guilty if family dinners are not a daily event. Start with what's possible at the
moment, naturally transitioning toward eating together several times per week.
2. Family discussions need not begin and end while seated at the dinner table. Family
members, including even young children, may begin communicating while helping to
prepare the meal and setting the table. Mealtime conversations may continue as the
family clears the table and does the dishes.
3. The family dinner should be a relaxing, pleasurable occasion. Unpleasant topics,
negative criticism, and passing judgment are not appropriate dinner conversation.
4. Always involve your kids in the dinner discourse. Their participation will not only make
them feel more valued; it will also expose them to new language and ideas. The art of
conversation and learning how to take turns speaking are important social skills for
everyday life.
5. Specific questions to children (for example, "How many nibbles did you get on your line
when you and Dad went fishing Saturday?") are more likely to trigger conversation than
general questions. ("How was your day today?")
6. Laughter is the best dinnertime music.
7. Family dinners don't always have to be evening events. They also can be weekday or
weekend breakfasts or lunches. What's most important is communicating the importance
and desirability of these family meals.
8. Change the family dinner location sometimes. How about an afternoon picnic, dinner
under the stars, or Saturday breakfast in your child's room?
9. Turn off the TV and radio. Unplug the phone or put on the answering machine. Don't let
interruptions spoil this special time.

What Should We Talk About?
• Ask everyone to share their favorite part or biggest challenge of the day.
• Plan the next day’s dinner together.
• Share your own childhood memories.
• Discuss an activity the family can do together.
• Talk with your children about a book they are reading or a movie they have seen.
• Eating dinner together every night is an opportunity to open the doors of communication.
This will help you find out more about your children’s likes, dislikes, and daily life. Having
this information can help you direct your children toward positive activities and behavior,
reducing the likelihood that they will get involved with alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs.

Wellness Wednedsay: The Benefits of the Family Table

Did You Know? According to the American Dietetic Association, studies have shown that children who have frequent family dinners tend to have healthier diets.

Now, that may seem like a “no-brainer” but here are some more interesting facts about the benefits of “The Family Table”:

Researchers at the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University have noted a correspondence between family dinners and positive behaviors and living-styles among American teens. Researchers compared the responses of children who reported having family dinners fewer than three times a week with those who have family dinners five times or more per week. The study concluded that children who enjoy frequent dinners with their family are far less likely to develop substance abuse problems.

If a child has family dinner time on a regular basis, he or she is:
-Half as likely to try cigarettes or marijuana
-One-third less likely to try alcohol
-Less likely to have friends who drink alcohol or use marijuana
-More likely to say they won't ever try drugs

In addition to avoiding substance abuse issues, children who have regular family dinners:
-earn better grades
-are more likely to claim that their parents are proud of them
-are less likely to report tension among family members
-are more likely to confide in a parent with regard to a serious problem

Researchers for the University of Minnesota School of Public Health found that adolescent girls who have frequent family dinners are less likely to use diet pills or develop eating disorders, such as binge eating or self-induced vomiting.

Why does family dinner time promote such healthy habits? Experts believe a regular face-time between parents and children facilitates communication, which, in turn, helps parents guide their children's behavior. A meal just happens to be the most convenient opportunity for families to connect with each other on a regular basis.