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Like a lot of churches, my church has Vacation Bible School in the summer. A lot of VBS programs focus on kids, as the tradition was born out of wanting to provide an activity option for kids out of school during the summer. One of the things I love about my church is that we focus on strengthening families. One way we show that is by having classes for the whole family during VBS – not just kids. I was super busy this past week and was only able to make it out to a few of the 5 days of Vacation Bible School, but I’m glad I did get to participate.

One class I attended started with two icebreakers. The first was called two truths and a lie. It’s pretty simple, you tell three things about yourself and the room has to guess which one is untrue. People seemed shocked at how well my sister and I lied . . . particularly funny at church. And probably also funny because our Dad is a pastor. Once the room was warmed up, our group leader for that day – who is also the awesome youth pastor at our church – led us in the second icebreaker. He had us to pair up, and not with the person we came with. I paired with a cool lady named Michelle. During the ice breaker activity we were asked to pick one thing about our partner – one positive thing – and share it with them and the class. Some people had just met, since we invite guests to our VBS week. They were able to compliment each other’s smiles or similar traits. Others, like some of the young men in the class complimented each other for how they take care of their wives and family or for being a good leader. I know Michelle, since we go to church together and see each other there fairly often. I’ve met some of her family and she’s met mine, but I wouldn’t say I know her well. She is a single Mom and an educator. She’s witty with a fun sense of humor. Her daughter is always smiling, which is no small feat for any parent. What I do know about Michelle, I like . . . so I told her. I told her that she seems to me to be a very hard worker and someone who will persevere. I know she recently got her masters degree and is working to become a counselor. I respect anyone who pushes to further their education but particularly a mother to a young kid, with a demanding job to juggle as well.

When it was her time to give me some kudos, I couldn’t imagine what she might say. She started by complimenting me on my style, saying I made bold wardrobe choices and made them work. Sounds like me. I’ve been hearing that since high school, when I decided I liked the way it made me feel. I was glad to hear someone I respected had taken notice. What Michelle said next was, honestly, shocking. She told me that she knows I have a husband, and two kids who are always running around (hard to miss my boys), and a lot going on, but that given that I always seem calm – cool. That was probably the last thing I would have expected to hear, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. If Michelle only knew!

How could she have known that I have been so stressed lately? I’ve been doing my best to mitigate and manage that stress, and to get done what needs to get done. She didn’t know that my business is growing, and while I’m beyond grateful for the much awaited growth period it is one of the most intimidating places I have been professionally – wondering often if I can actually rise to the occasion and opportunity. She didn’t know that the youngest of my two boys may be on the autism spectrum, has been having weekly therapies to help with his developmental delays and that scheduling those sessions, learning about treatments and navigating this foreign territory has been challenging – particularly when considering my increased demand from my business. There were so many things I was thinking about when she said that, so many challenges I’ve been facing all at once – while determined to live my best life and stay focused on success. She had no idea that her words, hearing that I had been doing a seemingly good job of coping with life, would encourage me the way they did. When I am at home I don’t always do as well as she’d seen at church.  Sometimes the tiredness gets the best of me, and I get loud with my kids or agitated at my husband. For a moment, I felt guilty about that. Thankfully, the uplifting atmosphere of the church, the room, and the icebreaker activity helped to snap me out of it. If I had managed to not go off, roll my eyes or yell at church – when it might have been understandable in a moment of chasing two little boys down an otherwise quiet hallway – then I was doing better than I realized. Obviously, I have improvements I can make, we all do. Being reminded that you’ve got something going well enough to deserve a little kudos can be a powerful motivator to keep making strides. It was for me. Thanks Michelle