Monday, August 17, 2015

Guest Post: Receptions and Rejection

I'm super excited to welcome my good friend Mikkelle to the blog today to talk about a topic I think many of us are familiar with. In fact, if we are being honest, we've probably been on both sides of the coin a time or two. When I was at camp a couple weeks ago, a bunch of us girls would get together late at night when we didn't want to go to bed, and we would just talk and laugh. A few of them talked about what it's like to be a "transplant"- a term they used to describe themselves as not being from around here. Living in this area my whole life, I've never really known what it feels like to be "unknown". This can be good and bad for many reasons, in my life especially, but I've grown up really having lots of friends and family at my disposal. So I don't often have to think about some of the struggles they do with meeting new people and starting from scratch. We talked about how hard it is to be transplanted into this place when people already have established their friends and don't feel like they need to expand their groups, especially to those who think differently than them.

You guys, this is a real thing. And while I don't know what it's like not to know anyone, I do know what it's like to not fit in with the crowd. As you read Mikkelle's post, I challenge you to see where this rings true in your life. Mostly, I hope that it convicts you as it has convicted me. We've all done this. We've maybe even been on both sides of the spectrum.

So without further adieu, welcome to the blogging world Mikkelle! Here is her story:

I was recently at a wedding reception from my husband’s side of the family and it absolutely did NOT go according to plan. Let me just give a brief history about us/me:
We’ve been married for 3.5 years.
We have a couple of cute kids.
We live in a house. 
We drive on roads. 
We clean up pee when our youngest pees in her sister’s closet.
We eat food for dinner. 
We do pretty normal people things.
We are pretty nice people also. 
* We do not sacrifice small animals and children to the flying spaghetti monster. 
** We do however, eat spaghetti. A lot.
I live in a small town. I’ve always lived in a small town but now I live in my husband’s home town, far far away from MY small town. And let me just tell you, it’s the HARDEST thing that I’ve had to deal with thus far. 
I do feel like I have to confess for the sake of the “wedding reception story” that I have a very strong tendency to be a hermit. I can go days without leaving my house or talking to another human that doesn’t live in this house. I wasn’t always “hermit-ish” not even in the least. And I don’t much like this tendency either. I have a social anxiety and an unrealistic fear of people that just reared its ugly head a few years ago.. The grocery store=bad. The gas station=bad. School= bad. Home=gooooood. Some days/weeks/months are better than others, and its work. 
I’ve been married and living in this small town for almost 4 years and I know no one. I know a few names and faces (mostly my kids friends parents) but no “I need a wine night pronto” kind of friends. I’ve heard  “you don’t ever talk to anyone so you can’t really complain” and I do get that… but the wedding reception story pretty much sums up my last 4 years and it’s just…… not okay.
My husband and I went to a wedding reception for his family member. I decided before I left for this event that no matter what I was going to talk to at least 10 women. TEN. That seemed impossible, but I was GOING to do it. After all, they were mostly family anyways, what could go wrong. We got to reception, we went inside. I didn’t even die. We sat at a table. Wine. Dinner. Wine. Wine. The dance started. Ten women. By this time a had a  little more courage thanks to wine. :)  I tried. I really did. The first person I talked to was someone I kind of knew who she was.. so I introduced myself.. she responded with less than 5 words then turned around to someone she knew. They took about 5 steps away and started chatting. Crash and burn, man. WHAT HAPPENED? My first thought was 
“HOME.” Home. 
 I was a little shocked, is this the middle school lunch room? Oh, yes it was. It totally was. That happened a few more times. I tried engaging in two women that I’ve seen a few times at events, they said less than two sentences to me, turned around and started chatting amongst themselves. Am I the black plague? Do I have garlic breath? Wait, I didn’t have garlic… black plague it is. It happened again. And then again. The only women that would actually be NICE were the women twice my age( Thank you, sweet women for that!)… But I was on a mission to talk to women my age, moms… with kids who are around my kids’ ages. Is that SO bad? I talked to one woman but once she found out my kids didn’t go to her kids school it was all over.. hit and miss again. I didn’t even know that was a thing, “You’re not wearing Gap, you can’t sit with us”, but now it’s about our kids and where they go to school.
 I give up. Totally. I went back to my husband. Told him I was ready to go and he had no idea what had all just taken place but he wasn’t even the least bit surprised when I told him about it later.
 I don’t know what is worse: the fact that it happened or the fact that it didn’t even surprise him? 
Throughout the whole night I think I only talked to two women that I didn’t know previously that gave me the time of day. Two women, that didn’t know me, that treated me like I was actually a human and not the black plague.  Two. 
This is NOT okay. This is not the way I want my daughters to treat other girls at school, after school, in their 20’s.. 30’s…. ever. This is not the way I ever want to act or be perceived. This is just not okay. Kindness matters. People aren’t talking to me because I didn’t grow up here? Is that it? Or is it something else? I need to know? Did I do something? Do you not want to talk to the new person? Is it a comfort thing? Because I can understand a comfort thing, it would have been sooo much more comfortable for me to smile and nod and not say a word to anyone but I went out of my comfort zone just to have grown up Mean Girls reenacted? I don’t want this. I want to laugh and connect and be around good energy and give off good energy. I want good examples of what a woman and friendship looks like for my children and their spongy minds. And of course for me and my sanity because lets be real; motherhood can be lonely. 
The night wasn’t a complete loss for me, my husband looked super handsome. The bride looked gorgeous and her new husband looked absolutely smitten looking at her, which is a sight to see! People in love are by far my favorite sight. I also got to see a few of my husband’s family members who are just awesome and a total blast to be around.  After my incident at the wedding reception, I will definitely be that woman that smiles even if you don’t smile back. I will make my best effort to include everyone in the conversation.  I’ll try to make people feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations.  If you’re sad, I’ll try to cheer you up and I’ll listen. I will listen to you.  I’ll try to make sure to never make anyone feel the way I felt that night. I just need one thing. I just need to know you.  I’m here for the ones who need someone, a coffee break, a playdate, a drink.   Being mean isn’t cool. Being clique isn’t cool. But being kind… yeah that shit is pretty cool. 
---------------------------The Black Plague.

Thanks Mikk!

I challenge you to break this mold. Where can you extend kindness and love today? Is your circle sotight that you can't open it up to someone else. If nothing else, get out of your comfort zone, talk to someone you don't know. Smile at a stranger. Be the light. 

You can find Mikkelle on Instagram at mikkelle16

Happy Monday friends!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

That Camp Life

As I said before, I really wasn't sure how camp would go with all of my dysfunction being all sprawled out on the floor and stuff. My heart wasn't in it like it was last year. I wasn't hearing God say "this is your path" as loudly as I'd heard him say it before  which made me doubt that I had ever heard it correctly the first time. Being still to wait for God to talk to me is not as easy as I'd like it to be. It might be because I'm a little selective in the hearing department. Either way, I had a little anxiety before leaving for camp.

As always, God had it under control. As I was sitting in Missy's car, heading to camp, I gave it up. I silently said, "Okay God. Let this week be what it will be. Show me why I'm here." And He did. He always does. Last year, I think I came to camp with a little arrogance. We are "fixing" a little bit of their lives I thought. Nope. We weren't. God was working and healing and using us, but we weren't fixing. We can't. What I realized was that God brought me there to show up. To love them. To love the others that were volunteering. To be love.
Camp Roomies reunite! Love these girls and our amazing friendship started from last year's camp. 

It doesn't sound that glamorous, I know. But I have very few talents people. You have to throw me a bone here. I was never an all-star athlete. My family cringes when I belt out "Shake it Off". I'm a horrible public speaker. I really don't have that much going for me. I do have a few talents. I do food like it's nobody's business. I am a GREAT talker. Most of all, I love well. Not perfectly. But well. I think that my job was to show that last week. So I tried. I gave lots of hugs and affirmations and me toos. I know they say that camp is "all about the kids", and it IS the focus. It so is. The ones who were on the front lines were AMAZING. They poured their heart into these kids the way I couldn't at this point in my life, but in order to have the front lines in best working order, you need behind the scenes. I rock behind the scenes. Behind the scenes is totally my jam. In order to keep everyone else going, there needs to be behind the scenes people encouraging, swooping in to give well needed rest, and love. That was why I was there.
Rach and I after the Color me Happy night. Such fun!

Now sure, my title was Bible teacher, and I was on the drama team. I LOVE my drama team. I needed their love and their support just to get through the week. See how this works? We all pitch in. We all build each other up. To be honest...I struggled with my role last week. In fact, one day I went to my room after chapel and cried through lunch, and then I took a nap because it's easier to forget all the sadness when you are sleeping. I felt like I had no business telling these kids about how much God loves them and how God has a plan for them when there are many days when I can't love myself enough to actually believe that God has big plans for me. What I discovered is that being Bible teacher was just one tiny facet of why I came to camp. God doesn't say "show up when you're ready". He just tells you to show up. He'll do the rest. So I did. I don't know if I did exactly what I was supposed to do this week or if I even did it well, but I showed up.
My incredible team. Love the friendships made!

Typical planning sesh

Sometimes I think that's all we need to worry about. Showing up and doing the next right thing. People need authentic and real even when it's not pretty. These kids need people to show up, even if it's just to love them. They don't need all the bells and whistles, but it was fun to give it to them. What they needed was love, and I think we did that well.

Moral of the story? Show up. Even if you aren't ready. God will use you if you are willing. :)

**For those of you who want to know more about camp, you can follow the Royal Family KIDS of NW Iowa Facebook page. You can also check out my post  with some of my thoughts from last year's week at camp.