When my husband and I were newly married and newly committed to following Christ in a way we had only flirted with in college, we were invited to dinner by Emil and Beulah. Emil and Beulah were in their 70s and, after a lifetime of teaching, Emil was a lay pastor in our church.
When my husband and I accepted their invitation, we knew Emil and Beulah only in passing. They were the age of our grandparents and as childless newlyweds, we had nothing in common. We pulled up to their humble home in the country and were greeted with a welcome so sincere and embracing that we immediately felt as though we had been friends for ages. We were invited into their kitchen and helped with final meal preparations. The meal was not fancy, but it was delicious. The table was set simply with their “regular” dishes. There were no special flourishes and no attempts to be anything but Emil and Beulah.
Our conversation was wide-ranging and enjoyable. Emil and Beulah told us how they met, how they fell in love via letters during the war, and how they have loved and served Christ for decades – their entire married life and even before, really. They knew the terrible tragedy of losing a child and the immense joy of seeing their living children love Christ with all of their hearts, minds, and strength. I sensed something as I sat at their table, and I knew I wanted it for my future family, even though I couldn’t exactly put “it” into words.
As we finished dinner, Emil pulled out a small, ancient (at least to my 24-year-old eyes) box holding small cards the size of those fortunes found in Chinese fortune cookies off the nearby shelf. We each drew a card, read the scripture and talked about what it meant to us. To Emil and Beulah, they were simply including my husband and I in a family tradition they had practiced for days, weeks, months, years, and decades. I, on the other hand, was struck by how easily these battered cards turned our conversation to God, to thankfulness, to scripture. I had never seen anything like it – and I knew I needed a set for my kitchen table.
As my husband and I drove home that evening, I could not help but feel as though I had been given a gift by being allowed to share dinner with a couple who had walked with God for longer than I have been alive. Almost ten years later, I still remember portions of that evening vividly, as it made such an impact upon my life and upon what I wanted for my family.
And so, as my friends and I started having children, the thought of those tattered-edged scripture cards came continually to my mind. I started searching for the set owned by Emil and Beulah, to no avail. I began searching for a set that would meet my criteria, but nothing met my expectations. I wanted scripture. I wanted questions to draw out the family, to bring God into the center of our days, to shift our days’ experiences into a holy perspective. And so, after years of fruitless searching, I created my own cards. I printed them out on do-it-yourself business cards found at the local office supply store. I bought a cute business card holder so the cards could sit on a shelf near the dinner table. And then I gave them to my girlfriends for Christmas.
As we start this new year, I am reminded of the feeling I had at Emil and Beulah’s table. With two children under five, my table is chaos and noise and spills, and statements like “You need to have one bite of your carrots before you can have another roll.” And that is okay. But it is also laughter and stories and attempts to talk of God. It is “Tell me the story of Daniel in the lion’s den again, mom,” even though it is my daughter’s favorite Bible story, she has heard it five million times, and she can pronounce Nebuchadnezzar. It is a moment in time in which we are breaking bread and sharing our days. And I know I am building my family’s dinnertime experience toward the experience at the table of Emil and Beulah – and that is my desire.
If you need a resource to help your family take a moment to speak scripture and find the holy experiences in your days, please accept the gift of these scripture cards I created for my friends and I. They aren’t mine, really. They are God’s – and they are for sharing freely, without cost, and without expectation. They are just as easily used at bedtime, in the car, or anytime your family has a few moments together.
The cards are PDF files formatted to the Avery brand business cards available either online or at your local office supply store. Pick up a business card holder, print off the cards and you are ready to go! You can also print them on cardstock or paper and simply cut them yourself. Enjoy and be blessed.