Discipleship by the tray--serving up grace and love

Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances. 

Proverbs 25: 11

Stomp, bang, slam, stomp again, slam again.  "Everyone in this family is always losing things. And if they would just be responsible, we wouldn't waste so much time looking for them all the time. Why can't people just be responsible?!!!!!!"

My 16 year old child was getting ready to take the car to run over to a friend's house and then go to the store for me. But we couldn't find the one set of car keys that we still had or at least had before we lost this set. Our family of 6 now had 4 drivers and 2 cars. It seemed we could never figure out who had driven the car last or where they had put the keys. "I haven't had them!" was what everyone said, so it must have been a little house demon that just stole them and hid them to frustrate us. We did find them behind the refridgerater, which we had to move away from an enclosed wall to find! How in the world had they gotten there!

But the bigger issue was the yelling, stomping, banging around the house. Somehow, in my heart, I knew it was a time for grace.

I went to the kitchen and loaded up my tray--made some hot tea, put some chocolate chip cookies on a plate, lit the candle. Then I took the tray into my little tiny personal place, back of my bedroom, turned on some instrumental music--and the scene was ready. 

I told this child that I wanted to speak to him, "in my room----now!"

The dread filled his eyes. When we sat down on my couch, I poured tea, offered cookies and began,

"I just wanted to tell you how much I have come to appreciate you lately. You are responsible, you help me so much, you are creative and I love your songs you have been writing. You are so diligent academically. You are growing in your faith. You are such a friend and blessing to me. I know it is hard to live in this crazy family sometimes and we do lose things, but we are all so very glad you are in our family. I wanted you to know I understand the frustration and I love you."

Relief just seemed to melt away from his face and he began to relax. "Wow,  I thought I was going to get a lecture or something. (apparently he had had a few of those before!) I don't mean to be disagreeable. I have even had great quiet times lately. But sometimes when I walk out the door of my bedroom, it is only minutes until someone irritates me. It just comes over me. Have you ever felt like that?"

We ended up having a great time of friendship together. He felt understood. I had a chance to speak into his life and the Lord worked in our midst. 

Discipleship, devotions, advice, teaching is so much more effective over something delectable to eat, something hot to drink and soothe, and a pleasant setting to enjoy with a loving relationship extended, than when spirituality is just dosed out in a utilitarian sort of way.

I have found that when, on occasion, I take the time to do a tray-time, it just sets the stage for my saying, "I thought about you. I care for you. I want to make time for you--or spend time with you."

I learned many years ago to serve my children with trays. Surprise breakfast trays in bed early in the morning to say, "I love you just because."

A tray and hot chocolate and cinnamon toast in a private corner of the house which says, "I know you are sad or mad or depressed or whatever, I just wanted to let you know you are special and valued." 

Trays for children when they have been sick--with a special little book or treat or puzzle or something to do to make staying in bed easier.  Our trays have come to mean love and comfort to our children.

I started this when Sarah was very young. My boys learned to love these "Get away with mom times--all by yourself!"I could see that even as a little girl, sometimes the tray made what would be normal conversation into an event. I have also seen that when I set the stage, the Holy Spirit seems to show up in a special way.

Now, I make trays when I meet with friends--a tea time tray on the porch, in the living room--always a candle, something to drink, something to eat or munch--like giving a cup of cold water to a soul--beauty, serving, an environment where the word is shared, friendship is kept, hearts are opened and the art of life is celebrated--and the Holy Spirit shows up.

Even Jesus used this kind of methodology. He washed the disciples feet and then talked to them about servant leadership. He fed them fish on the shore and then gracefully said, "Tend my lambs, shepherd my sheep."

The gospel is a powerful message. It is redemptive, but the reality of Christ with the strength of His message can sometimes be more perceived as life-changing, when we use all the art, beauty, tastes, smells, pleasures that God gave us as resources to use. So go set a try and have a tea-moment this afternoon.