Hi fellow travelers along the pilgrim path of discipling (not disciplining) your children!
I'm thinking today about something I've tried to do for a while. I have on our menu "Rice and Beans" twice a week for lunch. We don't always eat it because I don't have it ready- but there are a few reasons I put it on the menu and the same reasons are calling me back to be sure I do it and teach the kids WHY we're eating it. Let me share them with you-
1)"Rice is the staple food for two-thirds of the world's population. More than 50 percent of the world's population is dependent upon rice for 80 percent of its diet."1 We need to be able to identify with the developing world if we want to be sensitive to their needs and to the heart of God (who LOVES them!). As we eat rice and beans we could even talk about where its grown and who eats it. My prayer is that our compassion for others will increase as we identify with their struggles and way of life.
2) As American Christians, I believe we need to focus less on what we want, what we crave, what we feel we need and must have. Truth is, we could get by without big meals. (In fact, I could probably do well with some smaller meals!) Voluntarily denying ourselves of some of our wants is a good way to train the body and soul to submit itself to something greater. It is also good preparation for my children for when they will be old enough to begin fasting as a spiritual discipline. In fact, you could incorporate some of the principles of fasting into simple rice/bean meals now for the purpose of training, such as praying whenever you desire to eat something else! I also want to teach my children to be "content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want" (Phil 4:12). Certainly, we live in plenty, even if we eat rice and beans for a meal or two each week.
3) Eating rice and beans is cheap and therefore saves money. The money saved from that meal could be given to a local food pantry or sent to an overseas mission project for feeding the hungry. It could be used a little closer to home like working together as a family towards a monetary goal- sacrificing once a week and using the saved money (in a visual way like a jar perhaps so they can SEE the impact it's making) for something such as vacation, a piece of furniture, an upcoming missions trip, etc. to teach frugality and self-discipline.
4) I have looked for rice and bean recipes from different regions of the planet to introduce the kids simply to different spices and flavors of the world. They still recognize the rice and beans, but the taste is different. I hope that my children will travel the world someday, and I hope that by eating some cuisine different from the standard spaghetti, hamburgers, etc. they may feel more at home and adjust more easily to different cultures in the future.
If your children are older, you might even do a "rice and beans week"- as this family did. Check out their blog post from last January to find out more about that.
Whatever you do- God bless you as you seek to make disciples of all nations, starting right in your own home.
1 Producers Rice Mill, Inc. http://www.producersrice.com/rice/facts.html