Thursday, February 5, 2009

Entertaining ... or not ...

When living in PA, I enjoyed entertaining - having friends over, hosting an Alpha group at our home, etc. I don't enjoy cooking, but I do love having people over. We had a house designed well for entertaining and the dogs had crates to go in when people were over. We were a civilized family in a civilized neighborhood (whatever that truly means :). I had expectations - house clean, dog hair removed, kids well-behaved, dogs in crate (with treats, of course), etc.

Fast forward to now ... living in a camper (this is not a camper complaint!) - definitely not "entertaining friends" material. I only consider having people actually IN the camper who I know very well and will actually believe me when I say that "I am normally a decent housekeeper", "It's really not that bad", and other such ramblings. The stupid pride in me wants to scream "this is NOT how I normally live!!!! This is NOT how I normally live!!!"

So imagine my horror surprise when John offered that I entertain someone's wife during the day today while her husband went in the prison with him.

Someone I hadn't met. Another woman, no less. Someone who was sure to be critical the minute she walked through the door. I was pretty sure that this might be the longest hours of her week ... maybe even month. I didn't even know her, had never met her and somehow decided this about her. In other words, it had nothing to do with her, it was just anybody here that was the problem.

All the while he was on the phone, I was frantically waving my arms with the "no, No, NO - absolutely NO!" motions - guessing what he was going to offer for me to do. He got off the phone with a smile and suggested that I could take her for a hike (he had asked her husband if she did, but I never heard that side of the answer). "Oh, and we can quick clean the camper in the morning" - in.the.morning ... before 8 am. Ah, yes.

Needless to say, this morning, I was less than endearing and lovable :) I had automatically stereotyped this woman into someone that would not accept me as I currently am. I had made alternate plans - I was going to take her to the nearest mall - indoor mall - so that we could do our "hiking" there. Then, I wouldn't have to be embarrassed bringing her here.

Oh - it gets worse. Much worse. Not only is the camper next to impossible to keep clean (think 2 adults, 2 kids, 3 dogs and lots of sand, mud and dust), but the vehicles are also next to impossible to keep clean (think dirt road - think 2.5 miles each way of dirt and dusty road). The thought did cross my mind yesterday to clean the inside of the car, but it was FRIGID outside and I was pretty sure we would be driving the truck that John had with him. So. The car didn't get cleaned. Neither did the truck.

So, this morning while we were driving down the (dirt) road to meet them, I was using Clorox Fresh Wipes on the dashboard of the truck to try to make it look presentable. At that very moment, I had the thought that if I were reading someone else telling this story, that I would find it all very funny. I shared that thought with John (who by the way wasn't sure what to do with me at that point. I had already spat out at him with tears of frustration and the words "it's just a big deal for women"). Silence. "John, not all women even like hiking." Silence. "It's REALLY cold outside". I'm not quite sure where I was trying to go with this, but I wasn't getting anywhere.

See, the silly thing is, I knew he was right again and I didn't really want to admit it. I was being silly over stupid girl things that we torture each other with. Oh, let's not forget the really important things like the clothes we wear, the decorating we do, the parents we are, whether the hair is the right length or the right color, how well we cook/clean/bake, whether our "stuff" appears perfect and in order, etc. etc. All in the name of fitting in and being "normal".

I am still not quite sure we do this to ourselves. John always says "don't, you don't have to be that way". Simple. Don't.

The rest of the day went much better. We met them at the prison and she was VERY sweet, kind, flexible and friendly. One of the first things she said was that she loves being outdoors and going for walks. With that, I decided to brave it and bring her to the camper instead of to the mall. We had a wonderful time chatting, going for a walk (after the weather got above freezing!), later confessing that neither of us was looking forward to getting together :), finding similarities even though we are a few years apart and cultures different. I apologized to my husband for being so difficult and he as always quickly forgave me.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day and am looking forward to the opportunity to get together with her again next year.

Oh, and honey, about the "don't" ... I'm going to try, but I'm going to need a lot of the Lord's help.

“For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.”- Psalm 33:4-5


  1. What a great post!

  2. I agree sometimes we "women" just get ourselves in a frinzy over nothing and thankfully we have wonderful 'husbands' to keep us grounded... what a great post.... you are such a wonderful person and great friend... miss ya gal.

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  4. I so appreciated this honest post, Shirley...
    Hospitality is not something that comes naturally with me.
    Our house isn't big or fancy...doesn't have a wonderful large kitchen with granite counter tops like some women I know, so when I have friends come over, or moms of my girls' playdates, I am always a bit self-conscience...
    but I know I shouldn't be...that's not what hospitality is all about!

    Thank you for being "real" with that we could all have this gentle reminder! :)

  5. Ok, so first, I just need to say that I burst out laughing because I could totally see you waving your arms with a frantic NO NO NO while John smiles, turns his back and continues talking on the phone - LOL!!

    You were a great entertainer - but we came for the company, not the house, food or movie. And remember, we even paid to come! ;)

    This is a great reminder. Someone at church the other night insulted me when she, after learning I knit, said she'll do that when she's old. Why do people have to say that? It made me feel awful like I'm doing something wrong...But, I am who I am and if I want to knit at 33, guess what? I will!

    Life is about doing what we need to do wherever we are at. I am so glad that you were able to find friendship with her and let your guard down.

    I once read a sign (and when I make myself a copy, I'll send it to you) that said something to the effect of: If you're coming to see the house, call ahead. If you're coming to see us, stop anytime!

  6. so true, shirley! why do we women do this to ourselves?!? so thankful that our dear hubbies can help us work through it and love us in spite of our quirks! ;-)


  7. Love your honesty. I'll bet you never again get in that kind of frenzy over something similar again. As I was reading it I just knew that she was going to end up being a purely delightful someone that you were "suppose" to meet.

  8. I love this are so transparent and real!! Isn't it funny how we all are about the same? (That is women) well, they are a different story....just kidding.

    Love ya,

    p.s. Jodi, if you're reading this, I still can't post a comment to your blog...I've tried email addresses, etc...


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