Thankful for Technology

Yes, I have a website.  But I have not been posting as a priority.  It doesn’t come naturally.  This Baby Boomer has been a foreigner to technology; then a visitor. However, this week, I decided to emigrate to Techland.  I have arrived mentally. Too many ships are passing in the night.  I need to get on board.

But I fear becoming an addict;  on it all day.  It’s a definite draw.  When I’m on the technology I don’t need to look inside, connect with the whole person I’m in tech with, or be seen.   There’s something missing.

However, I’ve decided to focus more fully on the benefits.  Like Lyft and Uber.  My first experience was mind altering.  Pushed button. ‘Richard will be there in two minutes.’  Go.  Arrive. Click. Pay. Done.  Hmmm.  Somebody gets it with technology.

So here’s the plan.  Use what is good for you.  Face your fears and learn new skills and tips.  Don’t complain.  Get help.  Sounds a bit like recovery, indeed.  It’s time to grow.

Walking the Mall

Urban walking?  Mall walking?  I’ve been looking for an alternative to walking in the scorching sun in L.A. these past few weeks.  Honestly, walking the mall wasn’t inviting.  I thought I’d be distracted by window shopping and have to navigate around shoppers.  But on a particularly hot day last week when I wanted exercise but was dopey from the heat, I called a friend who was available to ‘walk the mall’.  I was cheerfully surprised.  I arrived around 8:30am.  The mall was open but the stores weren’t; less distractions and no shoppers.  The flat floors, cool air, and fun company made it worthwhile.  We knocked out a half hour in what felt like fifteen minutes.  I have found the alternative to exercising in the heat!  And, the rains are coming, we hope.  So, no excuses!  The mall is waiting!

Holding Your Family Together at the Table: Rest and Prayer

When truly valued and practiced, The Home Table (for families, couples, unmarried) is a place of spiritual nourishment as well as physical, emotional and mental. Rest and prayer go hand in hand to strengthen this opportunity for spiritual sustenance.

Times of rest, especially a weekly Sabbath, give opportunity to reflect on scripture, relational richness and needs, schedules, and any aspect of our lives that need to be brought gratefully to God or fined tuned to God’s ways.  Then, our prayers can be authentic, meaningful and truly brought before God for guidance and grace to experience the best in His plan for us and our loved ones.

So, what kinds of prayers does The Home Table invite?  Traditional?  Spontaneous? Long? Short?

Traditional prayers seem to be getting a back seat in many settings.  I pray them because they are beautiful and meaningful. They become familiar.  They give a prayer focus for my mind and heart.  They are rich with variety and meaning.  They allow one to meditate on the words, strengthening your beliefs.  They bring unity when said together and are rich in depth, like a well loved poem.

Here are a few  table blessings,  also known as ‘Grace’.  Does not God provide the grace we need when we ask?

  •         Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from thy bounty, through Christ, Our Lord.  Amen. [Said at my table growing up.]
  •  Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and may our meal by you be blessed.  [Martin Luther, 1483-1546]
  • Let us, with a gladsome mind,  Praise the Lord, for He is kind; All things living He doth feed, His full hand supplies their need. [John Milton, 1608-1674].

Now, spontaneous prayer.  Something about these, that I’ve noticed is that they can become long rabbit trails of anything that comes to the praying person’s mind.  So, here are some suggestions for sensible boundaries.

  • Teach your loved ones how to pray spontaneously.  The Home Table prayer can open with gratitude for what Christ has done on the cross, the real spiritual food for our lives; then for the meal and the cook and the company.  My opinion: meal time is not a time to pray long prayers.  There is usually temperature sensitive food to be enjoyed, other learning and loving to take place.  Make time for prayers for burdens and concerns at another time.  Conversation during any meal may bring forth many concerns. A time can be agreed upon to pray for these concerns. It can, for example, be immediately after the meal  Note:  Keep that appointment!

Here’s a sample of a spontaneous type prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the love you show us by having sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.  We are grateful for this precious gift.  We also thank you for this meal, and all your care and provision.  Please bless the loving hands that prepared this meal and all who are here together around this table.  In Jesus name we thank you.  Amen.

Of course, seek the Lord and find in Him what works for you and yours.  I’d enjoy hearing what He shows you!

 

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!

Holding Your Family Together at the Home Table: Encouragement

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On July 6, I’ll be teaching a Vacation Bible School Parent Room class on the value of using the home table to hold your family together.  In this entry, I’m sharing a couple of resources  amoung many that I’ll be sharing with the parents regarding ‘Encouragement’ at your home table.  So, here’s an encouragement for YOU:  go to thefamilydinnerproject.org to get wonderful science, communication ideas, recipes and tools for establishing and enhancing your family table.

Though a good jumping off point, let’s go beyond or go deeper with sharing our days ‘highs and lows’ at the table.  How can we further encourage our family members with connection, confidence and communication?  Here are some things to try.

1.  Observe your family members when they arrive home.  Are they tired, excited, depressed, jumping to share or something else?  That will help determine how they might connect and communicate with you.  Let them know that you are interested in them and their day, but will give them room to communicate when they are willing and able to.  It’s okay to have a quiet meal together.

2.  Instead of asking ‘How was your day?’ be specific.  For example, ‘How did it go with the conversation you planned to have with the teacher about the time line of your science project? Or, ‘Did you to sit with Maria at lunch today? How did that go?’

3. Think about asking the family member if they would like feedback to what they share or just listening?  Then do that!

4.  Talk about things other than school, work and problems: an interesting article you read, a TV show they like, a game they played in Sunday school.

5.   Do not use negative responses, comments and impatient commentaries (e.g. ‘Well, it’s about time you answered!’).  Fortify and encourage:  (e.g. ‘Sounds like you handled that situation better than you expected!  I knew you could do it!)

6.  Practice finding ways to use positive words authentically that build confidence:  smart, better, great, capable, for example.

7.  Do NOT tease, mock, use sarcasm or taunt. These are negative and degrading and cut off safe communication and trust (even if people say ‘Just kidding’.)  Also, have the confidence to encourage.  It may be new to you and your family.

Now, come up with ways of your own.  To help, think about what you would like said to YOU at the table in your home to encourage you!

P.S. (The picture at the beginning is a reminder that encouragement is for family AND friends!)

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!

 

Wisdom in Walking: Tool Against Depression

We all know that walking is good for us.  Some of us need to check with our doctors about that, of course.  Once found out, the question is, what is walking good for?  Today, from my experience, I want to share about that in a number of ways.  I, like many of us, struggle with depression.  And I’m on a mission to remain drug free in this arena.  (YOU have to check with your doctor about if that is a good idea for YOU.  I am not recommending that you do this my way.  I am merely sharing what I do, my goals and what I have discovered.  Use wisdom, my friends.  Work with your doctor and whoever truly can help you to decide what is best for you in this arena of exercise as part of your response to depression.  One of King Solomon’s proverbs of old communicates that it is through wisdom that a house is built, by understanding it is established and by knowledge shall its chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  Isn’t that great?  So, let’s stick to the road of wisdom, understanding and knowledge in our journey with depression to mental health and what works best in self care and self management.)

Straight to it:  If I don’t get exercise, my mood plummets.  I have now worked up to one hour a day of exercise. Here, I’ll focus on three things:  Valuing myself. What happens when I walk. Having time.

I decided to value myself more in practical ways.  That decision came out of admitting that I have a problem with depression.  That allowed me to begin looking at what was needed to care for myself.  Regular walking has helped.  A lot.

So, what happens when I walk?  My mind clears.  My mood lifts.  I take a real break from what I was doing and from things on my mind.   I do not work out at a club, because it is not my style. I do what is right in front of me:  put on my shoes and walk.

Now, what about having  time? Friend, it is taking the time, NOT having the time. Being regular is key.  It has taken years, but the regularity of my walking seems to have had a deeper impact on my mind: the positive outcome and savoring the comfort of knowing that I have found another good tool helps me cycle upward, practicing improved health. Know this: What you value is what you will spend time doing.  Therefore, I have time to care for myself.  I gave up watching TV over thirty years ago and have no regrets.  I was a TV addict.  Sitting around for too long, ruminating on difficulties etc. are not the ways I want to spend my time.  Now, I steal from time wasters and use the time to walk.  Yes, I have time to care for myself.  I believe that I am wasting time if I am living in a depressed state when a walk would change that.

Big step.  I gave up chocolate and caffeine in October 2014.  I’d been fluctuating on doing both since around 1981.  I realized that I was a drug addict.  Yes: CAFFEINE.  So, I determined once and for all that there was no turning back.  Walking is one of the things I do in place of both.  Though I still have strong cravings, they are less frequent.  Also, my mind is in a better place.  I am more centered, clear thinking, less impulsive and making better decisions because I am caffeine free.  I prefer these qualities to addiction.

As I change my habits toward better care of myself, I am happier.  And I’d rather be happy than caffeinated or depressed.  I plan to continue to walk this way.

 

 

Bible Comes Alive with Drama and Humor

April 16, 2015

Hi Cella, my dear friend in Christ,

What a blessing you are to all of us when you present your LAB at our W.D.G. (Women’s Day Group).  I have only heard positive comments from the ladies.  What a very unique way you have in making the bible come to life.  I love the gift of humor that the Lord has given you which makes the whole experience a lot of fun.  I think I have participated in every one we have done.  Keep up with this great gift God has given you to give away 🙂 !

Ginee

Great Insights

April 16, 2015

Dear Cella,

So many great insights came out of our LAB session on the Road to Emmaus last week! To mention a few:  the state of mind of the disciples in that sad and critical time – shock, bewilderment, sorrow – and how unable they were to work it out themselves; how their eyes were on their situation but suddenly became refocused on God when Jesus broke the bread; the confirmation that they received to see that afresh, and together.

Thank you for your God given ministry which has greatly enriched and inspired us as we became these people in the Bible and play!

With love in Him,

Bonnie

Seeing is Believing

April 16, 2015

Dear Cella,

You were so great to help us visualize the biblical record of disciples who spoke of Jesus Christ after His death. And how wonderful they must have felt when they learned He was risen.  We are blessed sharing your talents and wish you God’s blessing.  Thank you.

Fondly,

Florence