Hey Y’all! Welcome to week one of Blog Birthday Bash! Today, it is my honor to introduce you to Sharon! She featured me as a guest on her blog last month and I am thrilled to return the favor!
Sharon has the kind of welcoming, mothering touch that we would all love to experience. I have fallen in love with her family through reading her blog and I know you will too! Get ready to join the Flemmings family!
Family- It’s What I Do
When we were newlyweds, I remember listening to two sets of new grandparents try to outdo each other about how long they had each held that new grand baby. “I just held her for 45 minutes!” “Well, I got to hold her on Tuesday for two hours straight!” I turned to my husband and said, “We are never living in the same city as both sets of parents!”
That was a safe bet, my parents were in California and my husband’s in Chicago and we were headed to South America as missionaries
Fast forward thirty-five years: All six of us live in a small city in Iowa. Also in town are my youngest daughter and son, his wife and daughter—soon to be two daughters! That’s an age range of 0 to 91!
When we moved back to the states after twenty-four years on the mission field we came to a ministry based out of the college where my father-in-law was a Professor Emeritus in a city only fifty miles from the farming community where my mother grew up! Our family were born in Seattle, Washington; Durban, South Africa; Farming Community, Iowa; LaCrosse, Wisconsin; San Antonio, Texas; Lima, Peru; and Bogota, Colombia. Not to mention our children in-laws families from Frankfurt, Germany; Harare, Zimbabwe, and Manila, Philippines! This is the result of many generations of missionary work both on the going and supporting ends.
On any given Sunday you can find most or all of our in town family around our table for an old fashioned after church Sunday Dinner. I love it that we have four generations at the table so often. I grew up always living at least 1000 miles from my grandparents and my children did most of their growing up on a different continent from their grandparents, so being together is such a privilege and blessing, one I didn’t think I we would ever have here on earth.
I’m not a fancy cook, although I love to cook. I have several favorites that I make and on Sunday most of my meals are done in the slow-cooker because we’re at church from 8:45 to 12:30, but the family doesn’t care if it’s not gourmet, they love being together. I always joke that the opinion of my cooking improved by leaps and bounds the year my oldest daughter moved into her own apartment and my in-laws moved into a retirement community. Suddenly my homemade cooking was the best food in town!
When I wrote the book “Around the Table,” I didn’t realize that family mealtimes were such an integral part of my life. I grew up eating breakfast and dinner with my parents and brother every day and I thought that’s what everyone did. My husband had that blessing, too, so it was natural for us to sit down to meals with our growing family. It has been the time to talk to each other, learn to listen, understand the importance of manners, share chores, meet new people we included, and get into the habit of devotions.
After the book came out, I felt like I wanted to follow up, so I started a blog with the same name: Around the Table. I just want to inspire families to connect at mealtimes.
-The advantages of eating together on a regular basis are so great, I can’t understand why everyone doesn’t do it.
Mealtimes are such a a great time to let Christ work in me and live through me. Like when a glass of milk spilled for the third day in a row, how did I respond? Or when one of my children had a rough day at school and we could listen to them tell about it or just let them sit quietly and bask in our family love. Or how about exercising patience when the kids are kicking each other under the table or stealing one another’s potato chips? Around the table we prayed together, read the Bible together, and talked about and memorized scripture together. My husband and I tried to convey Biblical values and wisdom as we interacted with our children. It’s the basis we had for our faith and one we wanted to pass on.
Although none of our four children live at home any more, the nest doesn’t seem empty as we revel in frequent visits from our two out of town kids and their families as well as many guests from all over the world due to our international ministry with the Emmaus Courses International, and we love that. Whether we are alone or with others, we still have our meals together, bringing Christ into the conversation, loving and serving others Around the Table.
Sharon Fleming and her husband just celebrated their 35th anniversary and are amazed that they now have 14 descendants! All their kids were born in South America where they were missionaries for 24 years before entering a new and unexpected phase of ministry that takes them all over the world. Maybe they prayed the “prayer of Jabez” one too many times! She creates all the greeting cards they send, attempts to crochet, would love to relearn French, and dreams of taking a bicycle trip on the path along the length of the Rhine River and spend at least one night in a castle.