Holding Your Family Together at the Table: Make Encouragement Rich!

Monday, July 6, 2015 is here!   I’m just about ready to teach the Parent Room this evening for our (venicechurch.org) VBS.  My topic is ‘How to Hold Your Family Together at the Table’.  Below is a list of questions and ideas for your table that go beyond the good, starter questions: ‘How was your day?’ and ‘What was today’s high and low point?’  What you discover can give you better understanding of your loved ones and ways to pray for them too.

The first list is adapted from Dee Brestin’s list in the book, ‘Come to Our Table’, edited by Anita Lustrea and Melinda Schmidt with Lori Neff.

  • What have you been thinking about a lot lately?
  • What observations can you make from today’s (chosen) proverb? (The bible has a book of proverbs by King Solomon.)
  • What is one thing you appreciate about the person on your right?
  • On Thanksgiving Day: What are you thankful for this year that you could not have been thankful for last year?
  • During Advent, share a Christmas song, line by line, and ask for observations.
  • I Spy!  Between Ash Wednesday and Easter, or any time, teach the children (and adults, for that matter) to try to ‘spy’ God during the week.  Try these four ways to ‘spy’ Him:  answered prayer, unusual circumstances or timing which made you suspect God at work, unexpected grace and God’s help to do His work in the world.

I also liked these questions more suited for adult relationships gleaned from http://www.thekitchn.com/10-questions-to-ask-your-partner-at-the-dinner-table-219337.

  1. If you were by yourself and could do anything you wanted for one day, what would you do?
  2. What is your most vivid childhood memory?
  3. If you could wake up tomorrow and have one new ability or talent, what would it be?
  4. What advice would you give your younger self?
  5. What do you hope people think when they think of you?
  6. If you have kids: What’s the most important thing you hope your kids take with them out into the world?
  7. Who has been kindest to you?
  8. If you could hold on to just one memory for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  9. When you imagine yourself at 80 years old, what do you see?
  10. What are you most grateful for?

Why not give them a try?  Probably good to use just one at a time, and expand the conversation depending what is said and how it goes, of course. And, if you’re willing and able, let me know how they serve your relationships with family, friends and guests at your table.  Thanks!

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!


At the Table: Tools, Technology, Touch… With or Without?


Using seven minutes to speak about hospitality at the Community Bible Study Opener last Tuesday, I quickly unwrapped three scriptures, practical applications and examples, to clarify best practices in sharing regular meals together around your table at home with family and friends. First, ask yourself, who is at your table? Hey, do you HAVE one? Do you gather there? Studies show that eating at the table makes people happier, healthier, stronger and smarter. Why miss out? Run after this! Get many real and deep needs satisfied at home!
In Exodus 25:23-30 GOD instructed Moses to build a table, make plates, dishes, pitchers and bowls and to put the bread of the Presence on the table to be before Him at all times. Jesus is named in the bible as the bread of life. People, I have friends who do not have a table to eat at in their homes! So, TOOLS: the table and its settings are the foundational tools to nourish your family with food, faith, fun and fundamentals of family history and life. Set your table!
Look! Luke 22: 14-20! The Last Supper! At the table with Jesus! Breaking bread, drinking wine, remembering that the body and blood of Christ would be broken for the removal of our sins! Here, I jump to today… Technology at the table? UH, I don’t think so! Jesus was nourishing His people with Himself at the table, along with the food, with fulfillment of prophesy, with love, with friendship. He did that through their senses. How do you use your senses at the table? We are always trying to fill ourselves with something… why not family love, scripture, sharing, family history? Are you more connected with technology than the people in your lives?
Which leads us to touch at the table. That’s deep. Some families don’t have a table, parents, love, connection, food even. Touch is important. Physically, a hug when greeting each other, holding hands to pray, passing plates of food. And emotional touch. In Luke 24:13-33 Jesus was not recognized by two men he’d been talking to on the road about the meaning of what had taken place surrounding His death and resurrection. They recognized Him when He broke bread at their table!
A vivacious, interactive woman attended a lecture I gave on table principles. Though she expressed certainty that she was doing all I’d shared, I talked about enhancing the table above and beyond establishing it. We closed in on removing sarcasm, which she thought was fun banter, from the table. Later, I wondered if she’d follow through with some tips on encouragement in place of sarcastic ribbing and cutting. A few weeks later, her victorious story emerged. We ran into each other after church. Her eyes were bright as she shared that the family had been on a picnic. She told her teenagers that they were going to try something… She pressed on. They were going to share something they liked about the family member next to them. Results? All of them were balling buckets of tears by the time they were done! Emotional encouragement works to touch the hearts of our families.
So TOOLS, TECHNOLOGY, TOUCH! Turn the rudder of your lives back to the table! Your growing satisfaction will be worth the work and bumps in the road!
Here’s a blessing to take with you for your table, always thanking God for what He did for us, not just the food!
“Lord we gather at the table once again today, and we thank you for all your provision (name some, including the dinner and the cook!), especially the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins! Amen.
And remember: E.A.T.: Eat At the Table!

From the Road to the Table

The women’s group of Epicentre Church (housed at the US Center for World Missions in Pasadena, California) interacted well with the D.E.P.T.H. Ministries Workshop on ‘The Table’, which I provided for them on November 6, 2014. Throughout the bible are unexpected references to the table, its sanctity and importance; the Road to Emmaus being one of them. Three women stepped up to dramatize Luke 24:13-32. They made us laugh and enjoy a brighter understanding of the need to invite Jesus Christ to our tables at home each day! This was followed by an exhortation to encourage with our words. A tool was provided to practice this, teaching how to use scripture on your children’s level, to encourage their hearts and thoughts.  I ended with a few words focused on our need for rest as a lifestyle habit.  I’ll rest here.  But you can click on Ministry/Hospitality for books and bible references on ‘the table’.  Be enriched!

Luke 24:30-31 shows Cleopas and his companion recognizing Jesus when He broke bread with them at their table. Is not the table a sacred place when we welcome Christ there?

Luke 24:30-31 shows Cleopas and his companion recognizing Jesus when He broke bread with them at their table. Is not the table a sacred place when we welcome Christ there?

‘Versed’ about ‘The Table’

The family table is the core of communication, learning practical life skills and passing on your family heritage and values. It is the crux of a healthy culture and is dying in the United States. Throughout the bible, the table has been a place of kindness, honoring, safety, physical and spiritual renewal and sustenance. Learning to restore this practice in your home will bear much fruit for your legacy in Christ.

Here are all of the verses in the bible that I found about the table. As you look them up and meditate on them, I hope that they enrich your understanding and desire to establish or enhance the table in your home.

Old Testament:
Exodus: 25:23,26,27,28,30. 26:35. 30:27. 31:8. 37:10 & 13-16. 39:36. 40:4,22,24. Leviticus: 24:6. Numbers 3:31. 4:7. Judges 1:7. I Samuel 20:29,34.
II Samuel 9:7,10,11,13. 19:28. I Kings 2:7. 4:27. 7:48. 10:5. 13:20. 18:19.
II Kings: 4:10. 25:29. I Chronicles: 9:32. 23:29. 28:16.
II Chronicles: 4:8. 4:19. 9:4. 13:11. 29:18. Nehemiah: 5:17. 10:33. Esther: 9:1. Job 36:16. Psalm: 23:5. 69:22. 78:19. 128:3. Proverbs: 9:2. Song of Solomon: 1:12.
Isaiah: 21:5. 28:8. 65:11. Jeremiah 52:33.
Ezekiel 23:41. 39:20. 40:39-43. 41:22. 44:16. Daniel: 1:5. 11:27.
Malachi:1:7 & 12.
New Testament:
Matthew: 15:27. 21:12. 26:7,20. Mark: 7:28. 11:15. 14:3. 14:18. Luke: 7:36. 11:37. 12:37. 14:7,15. 16:21. 22:14,21,27,30. 24:30. John: 2:14,15. 12:2. Acts: 6:2. Romans: 11:9. I Corinthians: 10:21. Hebrews: 9:2.

Feel free to contact me if you find any others! I’ll plan to include them.

Hospitality as Gratitude


Hospitality Books

On Monday, June 23, 2014, I’ll be teaching a class on hospitality at a parent room for VBS/Vacation Bible School.  Here are some books that are a great support if you want to develop your hospitality at home and enjoy the subject itself!

  • The Table Experience by Devi Titus 
  • The Home Experience by Devi Titus                                                        kingdomglobal.com/store    Go to CATEGORIES  on the right.  Click on Devi Titus.  Scroll to book of choice.  The Home Experience is also in DVD form there.
  • Dinner is Served by Arthur Inch & Arlene Hirst                          runningpresscooks.supadu.com/books-new/dinner-is-served-cookbook  Type Dinner is Served into the SEARCH box.
  • The Surprising Power of Family Meals  By Miriam Weinstein  amazon.com
  • Come to our Table Edited by Anita Lustrea and Melinda Schmidt with Lori Neff
  • Below, I added Beth Moore’s teaching for two reasons:  it is EXCELLENT regarding the table’s sanctity and joy AND there’s a book recommended which sounds great: Table Life – Savoring the Hospitality of Jesus in Your Home. (Amazon).http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/living-proof-with-beth-moore/player/law-of-love-session-three-4a-432405.html

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!

Hospitality Saves!

When my lively friend’s last came to dinner with their two grown and cheery daughters, I served pasta with a meaty tomato sauce, slices of mozzarella cheese with tomato discs and basil leaves. For dessert we had lemon cake with a lemony mascarpone icing. Everyone was delighted and I was satisfied. Here’s where fantasy ‘meats’ reality. Think about what that would cost in a restaurant. Meal, tax, tip, gas, travel time, parking. I added up the price of the meal at home: I was stunned: $17.00! And that includes cleaning the linens and soap for the dishes!
I enjoy my home. I don’t feel the need to run from it. I am developing a safe haven for others to share. Want to know more about how? Fork over your questions and I’ll spoon up a plate of ‘help’ings!