July 2015: Bringing Parents to the Table… at VBS (Vacation Bible School)!

Parents responded with appreciation about what they would take back to the table at home.

Parents responded with appreciation about what they would take back to the table at home.

Is ‘this’ unique?  That’s a real question.  I want to know if any of you have seen ‘this’ before:  a ‘Parent Room’ for VBS.  I am hooked on the idea that our church has put it into place… for a bucket full of reasons:

  • Parents enjoy a free class on things that support your family life.
  • Save gas, transportation time and traffic stress.
  • Parents don’t have to ‘find something to do’ or go home and come back while their children are in our evening VBS.
  • Parents get a break; to regroup, share a meal and talk with other other parents about what’s important… or just laugh and relax!
  • Enjoy a complimentary dinner four nights during the classes.  (The last night is different.  Last year we had a hot dog party during the closing events for parents, kids and staff on the closing night).

I’ll be teaching one night on one of my favorite topics for families: Holding Your Family Together at the Home Table. To find out about the other classes, see the e-mail address below to Audrey.

VBS is @ Venice-Santa Monica Free Methodist Church July 6-10, 2015, Monday thru Friday, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, 4871 S. Centinela Ave., Los Angeles, CA  90066

For more information, e-mail Audrey at venicekids@gmail.com.  And to reach me, go to susancella.org to ask questions about my class and/or to answer my opening question! Above is a picture from last years class, since we haven’t had the class yet.  Hope to see you there!  It’s a wonderful time!


Listen Up!

Listening is an art form, a way of holding hearts in your hands, gently, so that they know their words were heard and cared for. It is a part of hospitality as it welcomes people into being known, loved and understood.  It is first a practice. Who do you know who listens before jockeying to be heard? It is not easy so here are steps to practice it.  Listen up, now.  It will satisfy and enrich you as well as the one you listen to.

LOOK… with your eyes or your ears.  (Sorry, texters, it just isn’t the same when you are texting while someone is talking to you.)  Looking with your ears means to tilt your head and face your ear toward the person to signal them to go on because you are, indeed, listening.

INTEND TO HEAR.  Your mind and heart need to be engaged, which is intentional rather than automatic.  Pray ahead, plan ahead and instruct yourself to be intentional for listening. It is hard to take our minds off ourselves, plans and troubles and truly listen to another.

SILENCE!  Give them the gift of a long turn.  When it seems like they might be finished, (sometimes they are just taking a breath, my friend,) give them more silence so they can trust that you care to hear more!

TIMING.  Be alert to when someone needs to be listened to.  Sometimes they just ask, ‘Do you have a minute?’ Sometimes you can feel and see the need if you are open to it.  Be on the lookout for such opportunities.  Think about it.  Ask yourself, ‘Am I listening?  Did I listen today?’

EMPATHIZE.  Epathy is often shared without a word being said.   A nod, a look of concern and a touch can convey this.  When you use words, keep them on the other.  ‘It sounds like you struggle with that more than you’d like to.’ shows listening.  ‘That reminds me of the time I…’ is more about you.

NOTICE how they are doing.  Do they need more time?  Give it if you can.  Do they look ready to go?   Release them.  Listening is free.

A quote attributed to Henri Nouwen is a caring call to listen well.  It is ‘Listening is one of the highest forms of hospitality.’  May your ears warm another’s heart today!