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The Office – The whys and hows of my kid friendly space

Dawns office

Today I had some visitors in my office. As they came bursting through the doors they exclaimed, “Ms Dawn! You have the best office ever!! It’s just full of so much fun!”

Seriously, few more precious words could ever be said to me about my office. I have always wanted my office space to be a kid friendly place. Years ago, when I first got an office, I was the volunteer coordinator of our children’s ministry program. I didn’t want the office to be seen as “my office,” but rather “the office” where children’s ministry took place, where other volunteers and of course, kids were welcome.

So I painted the former closet now turned office a beautiful color of obnoxiously perky orange (Yeah, I was orange, when orange wasn’t cool!) and we let the fun begin.

I’ve moved office space since that time. After being asked to consider a color other than orange for my new walls, I chose a lovely shade of white—but added vinyl adhesive polka dots! And, there are the orange curtains, an orange desk chair, orange tractor seat stools and tall table. There is gum ball machine, some sponge balls, a partial Mr. Potato Head collection, bouncy balls, a mini fridge, electric fireplace, and a zillion other kid friendly attention grabbing things. (No, my office isn’t really that big, it’s just well-rounded!)

People often comment about how much fun my office is, although not always with as much enthusiasm as today’s guests, and it makes me smile to realize that my office isn’t just a fun place, but instead it is a place that kids can relate to, connect with and enjoy. When they feel those things about my office, they also feel those things about me. They gain a sense that I am someone who “gets” them, and that I am someone they can trust.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to bring a smile to a kids face through my office space:

1) Color. You may or may not be able to paint your walls some crazy color, but even if your walls are white like mine right now, you can still make it pop with some great accessories, wall art, press ons, curtains, furniture, etc. (Most of what I have come from yard sales or someone else’s left overs.)

2) Toys. Keep some cool toys in your office. They don’t have to be the latest; they just have to be something kids will relate to. Currently one of our kids favorites is a sparkly filled water bottle, some old hand puppets, and my paper clip holder (it looks like a lady and the paper clips are her hair—the kids love it!)

3) Snacks. I try to have something on hand like fruit snacks or granola bars. Need to talk to a parent? A snack is a great way to occupy their child. Want to get a child talking? Have them sit down over a pack of fruit snacks and chat about their day.

4) Fun Furniture and Office Supplies. From my orange tractor chairs to my zebra striped stapler to my stiletto shoe tape dispenser, kids love the creatively eccentric things they find in my office. I even have a polka-dotted broom that rests on top of a curtain rod. Why? I don’t know! I guess the question is, “Why not?”

So everyone now and then I look around my office and decide it’s time for something old to go out and new to come in. This helps to keep my view of ministry fresh, and keeps my focus on the heart of children and the precious responsibility given to us to help them understand how much Jesus not only loves them, but He “gets” them.

Todays post was brought to you by my friend Dawn Ferris. Dawn Farris is the Director of Children’s Ministries at New Testament Christian Church, Keokuk, IA. You can find out more about her at her blog or follow her on twitter @whosthefarris

I Just Got Coached

I am a huge proponent of coaching, especially since I lead as a coach. I think everyone should have a coach, even coaches need coaches. And that is what happened to me today.

My wife and I have felt that we needed to tighten the belt and become better stewards than we already were with our finances. Part of that tightening we knew for us would come through our cell phone expenses. For about 3-4 months now, I have known that I should call AT&T, our cell phone provider, to see how they can advise us to cut our bill down. I also knew, since the cell phone industry is what they do and they were aware of what plans they had currently and which ones are on the horizon etc., that they were the ones to be able to give us some advice. Today was the day I finally did this. I called.

In just a matter of a few minutes, the support person I was talking with was able to recommend a change that actually resulted in my wife and I saving about 1/2 of our current bill. Not only that, it didn’t even require half of the drastic ideas my wife and I were dreading because we just did not have the same access to information or knowledge as the sales person.

So, I got coached today. I was helped from the sales person who had the experience, know how, willingness, and desire to see the result I was wanting to have as they walked me through this change. He asked a few questions, got our feedback, proposed suggestions, challenged us to think about things differently or see items in a different light, but all the while had our goals in mind not his own. This is s huge part of what coaching is. In just those few minutes he has now saved us a ton. My thanks to AT&T for the coaching you gave us today.

I hear from people many times that they may not have the money or the time for coaching. This was kind of like my thoughts with first contacting AT&T. How much more can they really save me that I can’t figure out on my own? Or that they will only try and line their pockets with my money and not have my interest in mind. I was wrong about them and often times people are wrong about coaching. It pays to have a coach. Who is yours?

iTodd blog of the week

I have been taking part in a blog improvement type network collaboration group with some fellow children’s pastors for a couple months now. We have been going through the 31 days to a better blog by using Pro Blogger’s book. It has been good for me in a few ways. It has shown me what good things I have been doing on purpose and by accident and it also has given me some ideas to try out as well. Some of the ideas have been hits for me and some not.

Well, in this particular week my blog made blogger of the week and went under the microscope. I was able to read some good comments, feedback on my blog and thought why not ask you as well? So here is your opportunity to pour into this site and leave some constructive comments (remember, all comments have to be approved anyway so why not leave something good or even bad but said in a way it will be beneficial and be able to be approved).

– Let me know how you like the look?
– Tell me about the ease or the confusion of navigating around the site?
– The kind of topics?
– The material covered on each topic?
– The general length of each post?
– Do I give you information? Solve problems for you? Cause problems? Stir your thoughts?
– When you are done how do you leave, with feeling you want more or the feeling that you are glad you are leaving?
– Is it easy to subscribe to? RSS feed?

Any other thoughts?

31DBBB: Assignment One: The Elevator Pitch

I have joined a group of co-bloggers who are going through this book titled: 31 days to build a better blog. To read more about it you can click on over here if you too want to join me and others for this time.

This is Day 1’s assignment which is to build an elevator pitch. What is an elevator pitch you may ask? According to Wikipedia it is:

An elevator pitch or elevator speech is an overview of a product, service, person, group or organization, or project and is often a part of a fundraising, marketing communications, brand, or public relations program.

The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver an elevator pitch in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes.[1][2]

An elevator pitch is often used by an entrepreneur pitching an idea to a venture capitalist or angel investor to receive funding. Venture capitalists often judge the quality of an idea by the quality of its elevator pitch and will ask entrepreneurs for their elevator pitches in order to quickly weed out bad ideas and weak teams.

Elevator pitches are also used in many other situations. Personal uses include job interviewing, dating, and summarizing professional services. Proposals for a book, screenplay, blog, and other forms of publishing are often delivered via an elevator pitch.

A variety of people, including project managers, salespeople, evangelists, and policy-makers commonly use elevator pitches to get their point across quickly.

An elevator pitch may be presented in oral, written, and video formats.

You can see my current version of it in the header of my site which is by the way the picture I used for this blog post. What are your thoughts about my elevator pitch? Does is seem quick but also descriptive over what I do in this blog?

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