Thursday, March 14, 2019

Lenten Book Club 2019 Week 2 - Family dinners and the importance of beauty

Happy first full week of Lent, everybody, and welcome back to this year's installment of the Lenten Book Club! This year we are reading The Grace of Enough by Haley Stewart, and I hope you're enjoying the book as much as I am. :-)

Our 3 chapters this week focused on:

  1. Beauty
  2. Making home a priority
  3. Family dinners

I'm loving the gentle storytelling involved in this book. I feel so connected to the experiences Haley shares with us, and I'm so happy to feel a part of their journey. One of the topics she addresses this week is the importance of beauty in our life, and as someone who thrives in the performing arts, this is so special to me. I'm a very practical-minded person, but there is a very real need for all of us to have a measure of beautiful things to enrich our lives. On difficult and/or chaotic days, we can choose to focus on those things to bring our spirits back to peace. At times, prevailing opinion may cause us to feel guilty for seeking out beauty in our world, because these things "do not have a monetary value" to some. But the Church has never seen it this way, and neither should we. Beauty helps our minds to transcend the everyday routines and contemplate the divine. This adds to the strength of our faith and our relationships.

The latter two chapters are related, in my mind. And in a sense, it's related to beauty as well. We shouldn't be afraid to "waste time" with our kids, just hanging around the house and enjoying time together. This is crucial to the emotional and mental well-being of our children. We don't need to be productive in the monetary or task/cleaning-focused sense all of the time. There is value to down time, especially when it is spent with our family, developing and reinforcing the importance of those relationships. Meal times, of course, are a crucial part of this. Mike and I have always insisted on the four of us eating together, at the dinner table, with few exceptions. Occasionally, there is an evening where one person has another commitment out of the house, or we as a family decide to do something different and eat our pizza in the living room while watching the end of an important football game. The kids know that this is not the normal course of things, and so they see it as an adventure when we do this. It's not always easy, especially when your kids are often picky and don't want to eat very much of what we cook. This causes me more frustration than I'd like to admit. But we keep trying.  I dislike it when the dinner table becomes a battle zone: "you don't like this food EITHER?" But we haven't given up on family dinners, and we're certainly not going to do so now. That time to connect each day, and share with each other, is vital to staying attuned to each other as a family.

What did you think of these 3 chapters? Next week we're reading chapters 7-9, and we'll be looking at hospitality (introverts, gird your loins!), the importance of community, and the role of the internet in both of these things. Great fodder!


  1. I remember as a kid always eating dinner at the table 85% of the time. It was very rare that we didn't eat dinner together. I remember it was a big deal if we got to watch TV while eating dinner.

    As a single adult I got used to watching TV while eating and sometimes I miss it ha. I remember once when I was in middle school or high school we didn't live near family and my moms friend invited us over for thanksgiving dinner. The whole thing was VERY BIZARRE. But the weirdest thing was that we all ate dinner on TV trays in the living room watching TV...they didn't set the dining room table (which they had) to eat together. It was really strange.

    Even though I ate as a family I knew many kids that didn't. My moms daughter knew someone the mom would cook dinner and everyone would make a plate and everyone would disperse - some would eat in their rooms, some would eat in front of the TV...seems so weird to me.

    I do like the idea of hospitality but I totally feel you as an introvert it's super draining at the same time...but I know it's super important in terms of creating relationships so I get torn. I'm loving this book!

    1. Sounds very similar to my experience, Beth Anne! Eating Thanksgiving dinner in front of the TV..oh my gosh, that is heartbreaking! Our current house has it's flaws, but on the whole is quite solid, and one of it's benefits is that it has both an eat-in kitchen *and* a dining room. We mostly eat dinner in the kitchen, but our developed habit is to eat breakfast in the dining room, and always if we're having company, we eat dinner in the dining room. It's nice to have the option to more easily add seats at the table!


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