Making Room for the New Girl

It’s back-to-school time. New schedules. New opportunities. New friends.

photo credit: usag.yongsan

It’s not just the kids seeking out new friendships. Mommies may search the sea of unfamiliar faces for a inviting smile. Someone to include her in the inner circle.

But what happens if every mom she meets already has a “full table” of friends? If each mom already has established church friends, playgroup friends, old college friends, then we feel we don’t need anyone else to meet our friendship needs.

If my table is full and your table is full, who is going to make a space and pull up an extra chair for this mom? To continue the analogy…she may have the best chocolately brownies in her  lunch box and wants to share. But we’ll never know all she has to offer because she’s forced to eat alone.

photo credit

Having been homeschooled from 3rd grade to 8th grade, I know the feeling of being left out of the circle. Literally. At junior high youth group all the girls with mile-high bangs & permed hair wearing neon chatted in a circle. With their backs to me, I  tried to “work” my way in. But they were content to enjoy laughter & chatter. They weren’t looking around to invite me. Each girl was looking out for herself & her comfort.

Is it any different now that I’ve exchanged neon Umbros for a neon tank (the 80s are back!)? When I arrive at a back-to-school event I’m in the circle. It may not be the “coolest” circle, but I find my friends and catch up. There is nothing wrong with maintaining good friendships, right? But “she” is over at the snack table trying to look busy. Because the new girl doesn’t have a friend to walk straight up to. She may need me to make the first move.

I challenged you last August to meet 3 new people. How did that go?

If you struggle with making room at your table or your table is legitimately full, here are three tips:

  1. Invite her to an event you are already attending. It feels good to be invited and to know one person. Perhaps at the event/Bible study/play group God will bring the perfect friend who doesn’t have a full table.
  2. Introduce her to another new girl. Just because you do the “reaching out” doesn’t mean you have to be best friends with everyone you meet. Become a people connector. Introduce two new people you have met to one another. Have both new moms meet you at a park. Then step back and allow their friendship to grow.
  3. Be honest. Maybe you have overcommitted yourself and you know you can’t be the kind of friend you’d like to be. Say that. Tell her your life is full but you would love to get to know her. I shared this with a new mom to Dallas and she invited us over for dinner. There was no work for me. She wasn’t asking me to add anything to our schedule that we don’t already do (like eating dinner). It was a great time to share the ins & outs of Dallas and help a new family feel “plugged in”.

This is an exercise in humility. Serving others before yourself. You (and I) will be tempted to seek out comfort. Looking for a familiar face. But let’s resist the comfort and embrace “the new girl”.

We may discover a rich, new friendship. We may learn something new. We may give her a reason to smile that day.

I’ve been the new girl. I am the new girl. Thank you to all those who have welcomed me in the past and will in the future!

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”-C.S. Lewis

Today I’m writing over at The MOB Society about my experience with a new friend. An email led to an entire new table of friends (literally every other Monday we sit at a round table). Click here to read more.

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What I’ve Learned from the First Week of First Grade

My sweet chubby baby walked his way into elementary school this week.

To celebrate this huge step into the world of education (homework for the next 15 years…at least), my husband and I took Quade out on a special “You Are A Big, BIG Boy” date. We wanted to mark this moment. To appreciate this thing called “growing up”. To stir up excitement over homework (worth a shot).

The quiet drive to the restaurant proved Quade didn’t know what to do having Bruce and I all to himself.  I kept asking questions to pull him out of his shell (and be intentional)…”What are you most excited about for this year?” “Who do you hope is in your class?” “What do you think you will learn?” He stuck to single word responses.

Do you know what finally got him talking? Raspberry Lemonade. Not only was he talking, he was laughing. Which at first was super cute and fun. But then he laughed hysterically and it was no longer cute or fun (this picture was taken just before he became super-duper nutso…note the cup in hand…which we had to remove soon after).

My first lesson of first grade: I still have a young boy. Quade isn’t leaving home just yet. He is still silly and sweet.

The morning we dropped Quade off at school didn’t go as smoothly or as “teary” as planned. In the hustle and bustle of getting out the door in the correct uniform, there was no time to get emotional. If you know me well you may be in complete shock right now. I know I was a little surprised myself. I truly think one of the reasons no tears were shed, was because I knew this woman would be shepherding Quade’s heart and growing his mind. That brought me so much joy there was no room for sadness!

She glows with all the fruit of the Holy Spirit. This lovely, wise, godly woman has a story to tell (one I may get permission from her to share here one day). She has come through trials most of us pray never to experience. Through the fire she has been refined to pure gold.

My second lesson in first grade came in our parent-teacher meeting. Quade’s teacher shared the important role the father places in spiritual leadership. She looked directly at Bruce and said:

“Moms are like the gentle rain. Dripping throughout the day God’s Word and love into your children’s lives. Dads are like a thunderstorm. Your words are memorable. The time spent with your children drenches deep into their souls. So don’t rush through your Bible reading. Make it a conversation.”

Amazing, right? I love the picture of moms as the gentle rain and dads as the thunderstorm. More importantly the idea of Bruce being challenged to be a spiritual leader by our son’s first grade teacher actually brought tears to my eyes. (By the way, Bruce is a wonderful spiritual leader in our home…just loved the encouragement from an outsider).

My third lesson in first grade was from the admission director on back-to-school night. She said,

“Our main goals are for your children to feel safe and loved. Safe & loved. Not necessarily happy (although they usually are happy).”

In my perfectionist/achievement way, I get so caught up in doing everything “right”. Yet in pursuing perfect I’ve neglected “safe & loved.” During this first week of first grade I’m taking a step back and making sure my boys feel safe and loved.

I’ll tell you Quade has been soooo happy this week. Joyful. He has been happier this week than I’ve seen him in a long while. 

So many wonderful nuggets of wisdom in just the first week of first grade. Can’t wait to unwrap gifts the rest of the year.

Have your kiddos started school yet? Don’t you love the lessons we learn going through school again!

the new girl

It’s back-to-school time. New beginnings. New schedules. New opportunities. New friends.

photo credit: usag.yongsan

Growing up I never moved…18 yrs in the same house.  In my first 5 years of marriage I moved to 4 different big cities. This Indiana girl who found comfort in her dislike of change, was struck head-on with a LOT of change. 

One of the hardest moves was to San Francisco.  Gorgeous city, but nothing like Indiana (the topography alone…). Even harder to move when you know absolutely NO ONE.  And have no job. And no commitments or responsibilities.

However, I found that no matter where we moved, we quickly found a church and got plugged in. By the miracle of the body of Christ we connected in deep ways with complete strangers. Even more miraculously I began to embrace change. I began to seek out new faces and introduce myself.

Fast forward 10 years…and now I have a heart for the “new girl”. Last spring I was at our local arboretum and I saw a sweet mom with her two young boys. I offered to take a picture of her with her boys (moms just are not in enough pictures with their kids!!). She and I started talking and I learned that she would be moving to Dallas in the fall.  We exchanged email addresses, became friends on Facebook and even did the #hellomorning challenge together  (www.inspiredtoaction).

This fall my oldest son will be starting Kindergarten at a small classical Christian school. I’m excited about the opportunity to meet a whole new group of moms. We had a playdate last week for all the new students. I kept finding myself going up to the mom who was standing by herself. Asking her about her kids. Where she lived. What church she attending. Making a mental note of her name.

Here is my challenge to you…meet 3 new people this school year. When you attend an event at church or at your children’s school, go out of your way to introduce yourself to someone new. If they are new to the area help them get connected. Can you invite them to a Bible Study you attend, your Sunday School class, a playgroup?

This is an exercise in humility. Serving others before yourself. You will be tempted to seek out comfort. Looking for a familiar face. But resist the comfort and embrace “the new girl”.

You may discover a rich, new friendship. You may learn something new. You may give her a reason to smile that day.

 I’ve been the new girl. I am the new girl. Thank you to all those who have welcomed me in the past and will in the future!