I am not a tidy Christian.

My faith is tried and tested, battered and bruised…a totter of belief dogged by doubt.

There have been seasons I’ve flirted with walking away from it all (as if I could), thinking it a better way to raise my babies and order our family, but toying with dangerous thoughts and heretical ideas. And yet…

and yet…

God.

When I’ve slogged through those valleys of shadows and death, God has refused to leave me.

When, with open hand, I’ve hung to gossamer thread, it has been he who has gripped my wrist tight, ignoring my mulish, wayward heart. When I’ve been faithless, he’s been faithful. To me...to me!

God’s long-suffering is incredible, incomprehensible, undeserved. His grace toward me is unfathomable, exquisite, blessed miracle.

But isn’t it that way for all of us; what he’s done for us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus?  His is a royal bloodline which, as his heir, makes me a daughter of a King. A princess! And isn’t that the longing of every little girl–to be known and loved and seen as beautiful and special?

I’m walking in a season of abundance right now, where I sense and see God’s favor and goodness. Hindsight is revealing his redemptive purpose in so many things, rendering me speechless save to express my gratitude for his kindness and generosity, tenderness and love. I can barely stand it, really, receiving it all as gift, and not wanting to take one thing for granted.

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I’m not thrashing quite so hard, but still…sometimes…my ragamuffin ways surface:

I’m not a fan of mealtime blessings

Specifically, I’m not a fan of mealtime blessings when they’re said to meet a “requirement” of religiosity, to bear “evidence” of salvation, or as Tim Chester phrases it in A Meal with Jesus, they’ve become “a stale habit.”  It bothers me when I’m with a group of friends in a restaurant and it feels like we “have” to pray because we’re believers and it’s what we’re supposed to do. Mark 7:13 often rings in my ears, that all we’re doing is following a tradition of man and thus invalidating the word of God; when saying a prayer feels performance driven, not for the glory of God. 

Am I the only one? 

I remember one friend’s family who gave thanks this way: to raise a glass and offer a toast of sorts: “To the King!” they’d agree, and they sincerely meant it as an expression of love and gratitude for their meal’s provision. My sister has sometimes offered a prayer around her table by raising her filled plate and inviting us to join her, then declaring our collective thanks for the meal and God’s blessings.

I love these earnest prayers.
Praising God for his provision and blessing before a meal becomes a communal celebration when we pray with thankful hearts.
There’s a huge difference between saying a blessing because it’s expected and sincerely offering thanks.

Chester reminds us what we’re expressing when we say grace:

  • Our daily dependence on God as creatures and sinners.
  • Our dependence on others as we give thanks for those who grew, processed, bough, and cooked our food.
  • The goodness of food, thereby transforming our food from fuel to a gift to be relished.
  • Our gratitude to God thereby reorienting ourselves away from self and back to God.
  • Our gratitude for community as we ask God’s lesson our fellowship over the meal.

(A Meal With Jesus, p. 73.)

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As opposed to rote recitation or religious obligation, offering grace is a simple means of celebrating who we are and Whose we are. As followers of Jesus, we’re to follow his lead and walk in his way. He modeled a mealtime blessing (as did Paul), and I’m walking on thin ice when I get all judgy about how it’s done. It’s the kind of thing that makes me ragamuffiny

Jesus tells us to come as children. I’d do well to keep that in mind… .

God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food.

By His hands we all are fed.

Give us, Lord, our daily bread.

Amen?

Amen!

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Robin Dance / Posts / Blog
Southern as sugar-shocked tea and in a scandalous affair with her college sweetheart, Robin is mom to two in college with the third almost there. She believes the kitchen table is a sacred alter, first classroom, and safe refuge, where the currency is spoken in love and good food. She hates "cooking close" and shoe shopping (gasp!), loves snail mail and surcies, and finds holy communion where sand meets surf. She's also rumored to make the best apple pie in the world. In addition to writing at robindance.me, you'll find her at The Art of Simple, {in}courage and Deeper Story.
  • Mary Bonner
    Mary Bonner
    http://www.marybonner.net/

    Oh friend…SOOOO good. I need a different adjective than good, but it true. This is so beautifully written and I love the quote on your graphic. I love that toast to the King and your sister’s idea of raising plates. And I do not like grace before meals that is a rote recitation of words. Thank you for writing this…seriously, thank you Robin!!

    June 15th, 2015 11:46
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      Mary Bonner…I’ve already told you but YOU are a rich blessing to me! Thank you for your encouraging words (always) but also for hearing my heart in this. I was a little concerned people would not get it…but I think a few totally do :). xo

      June 18th, 2015 12:00
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  • Sarah

    I LOVE the toast to the King. What a beautiful way to honor Him as we feast here on earth.

    June 15th, 2015 12:05
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      Sarah, there are times for solemness and times for celebration. To me, a meal is always time for celebration. NOT making light, but honoring, appreciating, recognizing how we’re filled physically, spiritually and completely through dependency. I wish I remembered that more often….

      June 18th, 2015 11:59
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  • Karrilee Aggett

    “ragamuffiny.” Yep. That’s my favorite part! xoxo (Amen and me, too!)

    June 15th, 2015 22:33
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      Karrilee :), I take license with words. It’s a hobby of mine :).

      June 18th, 2015 11:57
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  • Lori Harris
    http://loriharris.me/

    I agree with Sarah- A Toast to the King! Love this post Robin.

    June 16th, 2015 12:04
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      It’s a happy way of celebrating the one most worthy of celebration, isn’t it, Lori? (love to YOU) 🙂

      June 18th, 2015 11:56
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  • Mindy Mason von Gunten

    Stinkin LOVE that toast idea!! I agree, nothing is more beautiful than authentic hearts & worship & gratitude. Helping women see their truest identity as royalty–preferably Princess Warriors–is my passion! Thanks Robin, you truly bring new facets to light with your writing. (Found you during my 3.5 yr. stint in Munich, back home in MI the last 6 mos. Transitioning back has been a ‘work’ 😉 Have you read that article about expats being no longer a circle? We are now Triangles? Truth.) Lil sidebar there…anyhoo…

    There’s a song that goes perfectly with the toast identity by Tim Neufeld & the Glory Boys…”A Toast to the Most High” (hope this link works!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4Gz6BFFIOk&index=8&list=PLVwovVLVXKfZxO3XSDVPb5iGb_LEZ-VFc

    June 16th, 2015 12:52
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      Mindy!!! HEY!! Welcome home (a little late 🙂 ) No–I haven’t seen that article about expatty triangles but I gotta find it now. And I DO remember you (but haven’t seen you in a while). Anyway, what’s really funny about this post is the people in my IRlife don’t necessarily know this about me. Since I wrote it, e.v.e.r.y. stinkin’ time I’m eating with “my people” (be it friends or family), I think about this. Maybe I need to bring it up, huh? Or, I guess when share the lead-in from my blog a few more will know :).

      Anyway, FUN song this morning that does fit perfectly–thank you for sharing it. (I’m raising my coffee cup right now toasting the Most High 🙂 ). Glad to reconnect again :).

      June 18th, 2015 11:56
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  • Christina Drake (Sunshine)
    http://teatimeandsunshine.com

    Touching! I have felt this way before. I don’t want things I do to become just a habitual repeat from day to day. As a matter of fact, this morning I was thinking about the prayer I usually prayed before I ate. It’s been the same for a bit. God sees through to our heart and I want Him to see mine genuinely thankful for everything. I enjoyed the read and the playlist from Tim Neufeld! It flowed perfectly with this story.

    June 18th, 2015 18:38
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      Hi Sunshine :),

      My heart is to honor the Lord when I pray; “obligatory” prayer makes me feel like a liar. BUT, I am truly thankful for every bit of God’s provision, and it’s EASY to be honest praising and thanking Him for such incredible generosity. To never wonder where my next meal is coming is abundance.

      June 18th, 2015 20:59
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  • Debbie Putman
    http://debbieputman.com

    Beautiful! The toast idea is fantastic! Prayer: heartfelt talking to God in praise and lament in confidence and confusion. But giving thanks in everything.

    June 18th, 2015 23:22
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      Debbie…sometimes prayer and what’s on our heart IS confusion. I’ve never had that idea before. Now, I find myself turning it over in my mind…. So thank you for giving me a little something to think about as it relates to prayer :).

      June 19th, 2015 14:18
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  • Lina Rochette Hill

    “To The King” – I love it! That I could surely do with Joy. I also hate praying in public, for many reasons, not the least of which is fear of being judged. Or worse, saying a prayer at a restaurant and then we start out with “Do you know what she said…” to be overheard by those who just watched us bow and pray! How is that for a witness? NOT!! I also don’t pray out loud at prayer meetings because I either cry or leave my body and have no idea what I said… Neither very comfortable to my very introverted self.

    When deciding my intentions about something spiritual, I try to relate it to something secular. When I stopped going to church because I just could not deal with the crowds at that time, I realized I wouldn’t go to a fair or concert or any other function that gathered on the same level and figured that going just because I “should” was not an act of worship anyway.

    Thanks Robin for a great post!

    June 19th, 2015 1:11
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      Lina, thank you for your honesty; it’s so refreshing. AND interesting to me, how you’ve tied parallels between your secular/spiritual lives. That’s probably a helpful exercise for all of us at times. I don’t mind praying in public, so that part hasn’t bothered me, but your comment made me smile b/c it DID make me think about why I won’t put any sort of “religious” icon/sticker on my car…b/c I *might* just go over the limit sometimes :).

      June 19th, 2015 14:17
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  • libertybain

    YES! sometimes I wonder how you get the current running deep down in my heart. This post brings to the surface my issues with ALWAYS praying and recognizing it’s a have to instead of a WANT to. thanks so much for baring your heart and the automatic invite to go deeper – many blessings!

    June 19th, 2015 16:55
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      I’m right there with you, Liberty…I WANT to go deeper xo.

      June 20th, 2015 15:14
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  • Susan

    I liked this post a lot. I agree about the restaurant thing. Usually I just life my hands and say “Thank You, Lord.” or “Bless this meal, Lord.” I heard this story about a giant in the faith – can’t remember who! But he was asked to bless the meal at some big conference, he stood up, closed his eyes and said Thank You Lord – I’m hungry.” Everyone was shocked. I think it’s a great example of grace and thanksgiving. My grandfather always prayed these long prayers at a restaurant and it never failed my grandmother would interrupt him and say “for heaven’s sake, Harold, we are hungry.” Holier than thou anything appalls me!

    June 22nd, 2015 20:15
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    • Robin Dance
      http://www.pensieve.me/

      Oh, my…I would’ve loved to have been at that conference.

      I guess I (mostly) never see saying a (public) blessing as “holier than thou” but when I DO see that quality, I bristle. My experience is more one of obligatory prayer or some thread of legalism. When I pray, I MEAN it, so…to feel a subtle coercion feels disingenuous to me. I’m complicated :).

      June 25th, 2015 14:17
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      • Susan

        My grandfather was NOT holier than thou!!!! I meant Pharisaical prayers in public, which are spoke to impress others, not address our sweet Father!

        June 26th, 2015 19:14
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