“If thou desire the love of God and man, be humble, for the proud heart, as it loves none but itself, is beloved of none but itself. Humility enforces where neither virtue, nor strength, nor reason can prevail.” -Francis Quarles

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A few years passed without seeing a particular family, and it took almost a year to get a date on the calendar where all of our kids would be home and together. Over Christmas break our two families came together for what someone peeking in would say was a rather “lively” or “energetic” meal.

The other night, my husband and I were reminiscing about our time together over the holidays, how impressed we were with all the teenagers sitting around our dinner table, so polite, so full of zest, with a zeal for life–and actually, very humble about their many accomplishments. A few came back from college, a couple still in high school, we didn’t have to tell them ahead of time how to behave, to put their cell phones away, to interact with other people, to engage in the conversation, or how to be a part of the evening. All of the kids knew what to do, were free to voice their opinions, and participated in the evening in many ways.

We shared college stories, literature, spiritual matters. Pandora was playing, kids were singing, the piano and violin played late into the evening … we spent hours together on a Saturday night. Later we knew this evening would be a memory our family would never forget. Taking it a step further, maybe even a spiritual moment. I know it was for me; maybe for all.

We barely got started with the dinner–I think we were on the salad course–when already there were so many common interests that a person could not finish two sentences without someone else chiming in.

This is where the spoon came in.

We resorted to passing a spoon, which meant the person holding the spoon could speak. In some cultures, you may have heard of “passing the stick” in the same regard.

Passing the Spoon: The person whose hand is holding the spoon gets to hold court–to speak, without being interrupted. Everyone else listens, holds their comments or ideas, and waits. It’s a way to bring order to conversation, which we needed. :) What we gained was, by focusing on one person at a time, the “spoon” allowed even the quieter person to get in on the conversation.

Paul and I counted the years of parenting for both families put together–almost 40 years.

Forty years of parenting … that is a lot of hard work, perseverance, prayer, teaching–put into our kids.

Forty years, well-worth the energy of every minute spent guiding and directing, loving and disciplining …

Have you ever used the “spoon” approach to conversation around your dinner table?