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      Your child wants to invite other children to her/his birthday party who are outside of the "friendship circle" and were told they were not allowed to by the children inside the friendship circle. Your child might even ask to have two separate birthday parties: one to host the clique and one to host everyone else. 



  Cliques enforce strict "conformity" rules (i.e. everyone must like the color "purple"... everyone must like a certain kind of music... everyone must do similar activities such as a particular sport or hobby...everyone must dress a certain way...etc.) When your child practices their own individuality that goes against the conformity of the group,  they risk rejection from the friendship group. 



      Cliques/Toxic friendship groups spend the majority of their time together talking poorly about others outside of the group or other members of the group who  are not present at the time. Chronic gossip and trash talking are not social norms among childhood friendship groups. In fact, it's a sign of a toxic community.



     One moment your child is "in" the group and the next moment he/she hasn't heard from anyone in a few days and wonders what they have done wrong. Clique's use the silent treatment to control  and reinforce co-dependency. Usually, the queen bee (or narcissistic leader of the clan) will be the first to execute the silent treatment initiative while the others follow suit. 



    When member hurts another member in a clique/toxic friendship group, no one stands up or speaks up about the offense. The offense is overlooked because loyalty is to the group and not to a person. Cliques not address conflict within the group. They will take up battles against outsides but they will not directly hash out any relational conflict between themselves. Either they will force out a member with the silent treatment or they will passive aggressively attack his/her intellect, physically appearance, interested, family dynamic, economic status, etc.... until that members gets the message, "YOU ARE NO LONGER ONE OF US."

    What do you do if your child is trapped in a clique?

1. Remember YOU are the parent and YOU can help.

   Parents, you are NOT powerless against your child's toxic friendship group. You can help your child exit an abusive social circle  by limiting the opportunities your child spends with them, introducing your child to other social circles through extracurricular activities, placing boundaries on smart phone usage at home (i.e. phones off by 9pm, utilizing tools like the Circle, limiting social media apps, etc.) and having a frank conversation with your kid, "Your friends are not nice to you. You need new friends."

   Many parents feel like that they cannot  interfere with who their children chooses to be friends with and often assume that other children are "harmless" because they are
"just children". If you suspect your child is suffering because they are trapped in a clique, do something. Get outside help with counseling. Have an honest conversation with your child. Help them connect to others. Oh, and be their friend. Yea... I just said it. And I'll say it again...

2. Be your kid's friend.

   You can be both an healthy leader in your child's life and an example of a healthy friend. I think this idea of "parents cannot be friends with their children" is not only pure bologna... it's damaging. Children need to have examples of what a healthy friend looks like...and guess what ... that example should be you. Have fun with your child! Take them out ice-cream! Allow yourself to laugh with them! Run around on the playground and play tag with them. Practice appropriate vulnerability with them (example: Your child notices that you are down after a long day at work. They ask you if you are okay. An appropriate vulnerable response would be: "I feel a little down today because work was really hard. Do you ever feel down when school is hard? What makes me feel better is spending time with you/going for a long walk/enjoying a bubble bath/etc." Appropriate vulnerability models to children how to name feelings and take proactive steps to navigate them). 

    There may come a time when your child is kicked out of their clique and you might just be their only friend for a season. So, be it...and be a dang good one,

3. Do not be deceived: Academic intelligence will get your child to college but social intelligence will get them through college.

   Invest your child's social intelligence. If you are child is repeatedly finding themselves in toxic social groups, utilize the help of a therapist. If your child seems to always be in the midst of friendship drama, teach them the importance of healthy friendship. Do not turn a blind eye and only be concerned about what is going to get them into college (academic, sports, extracurricular activities,volunteer work, etc.) Care about their social well being too. College can be wonderful or it can be awful and often ... what determines one way or the other is... friendship. 

[ For more on cliques, listen to Friending Podcast's  Episode 53 ]


     We sat around a sticky table at Starbucks when one mother said to another mother,

"Honestly. I can't believe you gave your ten year old a smart phone! Don't you know how dangerous it is?"

   Other mothers started to chime in with all kinds of " children and technology" opinions. It's terrible for their brain development! It makes them accessible to cyber-bullying! They become vulnerable to online predators!

     The mother, in question, took another sip of her flat white and then placed it carefully in the middle of the table.

      "I didn't give my ten year old a smart phone. Her *father* did. When we separated, he bought it for her because she started to have panic attacks at bedtime. When she is with me at night, he will FaceTime her until she falls asleep. When she is with him, I do the same. "

  Suddenly Starbucks fell silent and we all felt a little stupid.


What you need to know about kids, smart phones + parent pressure:

1. This is a personal decision that parents need to make for their individual child. The polling consensus doesn't get a vote.

       You have to do what is best for your child. Period.

  • It is the responsibility of the parent to inform themselves of all the possible positive and negative effects of smart phone/social media  usage.
  • It is the responsibility of the parent to assess their own child's individual maturity to handle 24 hour access to information and peer interaction.
  • It is the responsibility of the parent to create healthy boundaries and positive restrictions to safeguard their child and protect them from online harm.
  • It is the responsibility of the parent to make a  decision, enforce their decision, and be confident in their decision as it pretains to social media, smart phone and their kid.

     No one else gets a say. As much as peer pressure is alive and well today... so is "parent pressure". Newsflash, people: Parenting in this highly technologically driven age is really friggin' hard to navigate. So, let's be gentle with each other. Okay?

2. Personal Social Media/ SmartPhone Policy should be communicated to parents/adults who are temporarily caring for your child. 

     Parents have the right to enforce their family's personal phone/social media policy no matter where their child is. Here's an example: Your daughter is  attending Little Susie's slumber party. You are not sure if the other children at the slumber party have access to a smart phone but your personal family phone/social media  policy is that your daughter's picture is not to be on social media sites  nor should she engage on any a social media site. This personal policy should be communicated to Little Susie's parents, "Hey. Just a heads up...our daughter is not allowed to be on or engaging on any social media sites. We would really appreciate if you could help us honor that commitment we made." Will Little Susie's parents honor your request? There is no guarantee... but if they are decent folks, they will. Even so, you got to communicate what you want held accountable. 

    A mistake that many parents make is that they assume parents of other children have similar family social media/ smart phone policies. When they find out that Little Billy introduced their child to the world of Snap Chat at Billy's house... they freak out. Little Billy's parents allow him to use Snap Chat with some restrictions but Little Billy's parents had no idea that Snap Chat was not something that  all parents were cool with. Do you see the problem? Lack of communication means lack of accountability.

      Parents have got to get comfortable with communicating what their personal policy is. They don't have to defend or give reason for their policy but they do need to make it known. 

3.  Parents shouldn't feel like they have to defend their phone/social media policy to anyone...except to their kid. 

    Throw tomatoes at me if you will, but your kid needs to know the "why" behind the phone/social media policies you are putting into place. The old line of, "Cause we say so", just doesn't cut it these days (did it ever?) . This classic parental proclamation will NOT empower your child to stand up to the peer pressure they are going to have to navigate. 

  When we educate our children with why we have restrictions or particular policies, we are empowering them. Will they always agree with our reasons? Um...no...but at least we will equip them with good information that they can weigh against what information their peers will offer them.  We have got to give our kids the opportunity to think critically.... especially in this technologically driven age. We do this by informing.

4. Parents should help other parents out by reporting dangerous activity discovered on social media.

     No. No one gets to tell you how to parent your kid. No. One. But if you happen to stumble upon Little Judy's finsta account where she is posing in her bra and panties and talking dirty to 30 year old men...  I think it's fair to discreetly inform Little  Judy's parents of this kind activity. 

    Once another mother said to me, "Oh my God! Did see So-and-So's daughter's fake Instagram account ! She was half naked in her last post. I doubt all the men that made comments on her post knew she was only 13."  

   I responded, "Do her parents know?"

   She said "I don't know. It's not my problem. She's not my kid."

   To which I replied , "So...it's not your problem... but it IS you latest piece of hot gossip?" (Side note: I get snarky when I feel like people aren't taking children's safety seriously)

    Look. I get it. Some of us don't want to tell parents that they are kids are cyber-bullying...  the target of cyber-bulling ... posing half naked in posts... or chatting online to strangers... because it's uncomfortable. It IS uncomfortable. Get over it. Our kids are too precious to not make it our business to keep them safe.  If you see something that concerns you, say something to the people who love that child the most: the parents.

    Our kids are living in way different world than the world WE lived in as children. Technology has changed but kids haven't. Kids still need parents to be their loving leaders who make good decisions on their behalf.  So...

Let's remember:

1. The decision about social media/phone policy is personal for each parent to weigh for their child.

2. We need to communicate appropriately what our personal policy is if we want it to be enforced no matter where our child is.

3. We need to empower our kids by educating them on the reasons why we have particular social media/phone policies.

4. We need to help each other out and make the safety of all children our business. 

   We can do this.

We can lead this generation well. We were born for it.

Always cheering for you,



"You can't struggle with an anxiety," she said, "You're too outgoing!"

 It took a lot of courage for me to admit out loud that I was dealing with crippling fear on a daily basis. The whole group of women I had just laid my soul bare to, looked at me with doubt in their eyes. There is nothing worse for an anxious person to feel than to feel that  no-one believes them.

"You are so extroverted! I would NEVER have thought you struggled with fear, " another woman added. 

     True to my extroverted, outgoing nature I gave the people what they wanted and cracked a joke to lighten the room,

  "Surprise!" I said, "I guess I'm coming out of the anxiety closet!"

Everyone laughed and moved on to talking about something else and I... I felt alone.

    There is misconception out there that folks who struggle with anxiety are timid, quiet, hermit-like people. Who started this nasty rumor?

 Newsflash: Anxiety affects all personality-types. Spread the word!  Anxiety affects all kinds of people but it can look different for each person. Some of us have not picked up on the signs and symptoms of friend who struggles with chronic worry simply because we have assumed that their personality is too "outgoing" to be "fearful". 

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1. "Even though I am energized by people, my anxiety is often triggered by people."

       Panic attacks have been triggered by all kinds of the things, but many extroverts are triggered by an overwhelming feeling that they are letting everyone down. People are very important to outgoing personalities and whatever you consider most important, you will almost most fear losing.

2. "I often feel most anxious when I am alone."

   Nighttime can be the worst time of the day for outgoing types. All the people are  sleeping and the extrovert is left alone with their thoughts. It's the prime time to  lie in bed and count all the worries. Extended periods of time without people can make them feel nervous.  Isolation is breeding ground to create "worst scenarios" in the  mind because being around people makes an outgoing person feel safer...and being without people makes them feel vulnerable.


3. "Though I appear like the 'life of the party' at times... I don't always feel like the 'life of the party'."

     Outgoing people are often mistaken as confident people but insecurity is something we all face. Sometimes surrounding themselves with people gives an extrovert a brief  distraction from dealing with their own feelings of failure. 

4. "I need you to reach out to me too." 

       Outgoing people tend to be the initiators  of social contact but in times of anxiety they need their friends to reach out to them. They need a call, a note, a "Hey. Is everything okay?". One of the most overwhelming things that an outgoing + anxious friend is battling is the belief that "No one cares."

    Your outgoing and anxious friend needs YOU to be their safe person they can fall apart in front of. They need you to not question the validity of what they are going through but rather offer a hand they can hold onto.

Always your friend,



    Are YOU a person who struggles with anxiety?

Listen to this podcast episode: "HOW I NAVIGATE ANXIETY + FRIENDSHIP".


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Name *
Now that we are friends, can I send you monthly email love I call, "You Can Sit With Us"?w *


HOSPITALITY: Letting People Into Your Hot Mess

    I just want to be clear: I am the kind of person that cares what people think. When people come into my home, I'd prefer that they would take one good look around and say to themselves, "WOW! Noelle has really got her life together!"

     The problem is that I don't.

  I am not just talking about cooking, cleaning, and home decorating. So what if you discover that I am terrible at staying on top of my laundry? I can live with that. What I don't want you to find out is that...

  • My husband and I fight sometimes.
  • My kids don't always get along or obey.
  • I start screaming when we are running late to anything.
  • I struggle with anxiety.
  • I forget to pay bills on time.
  • I'm on my phone way too much.
  • I'm always trying to lose weight but never trying hard enough.
  • I don't always get to my "quiet time" with Jesus everyday because busyness or Netflix gets the priority. (cue: shock and horror from reader)

     These are just some of the things I would prefer to keep from you when you are a guest in my home. Like shoving the miscellaneous clutter into a junk drawer or a spare closet...I want to hide the hot mess of my life to give the appearance of a picture perfect life.


      The desire to appear perfect keeps me from being hospitable.

  I don't mind "entertaining" because when I am "entertaining", I can play the part of the perfect host, wife, mother, domestic goodness, and "spiritual" person. I can let you see what I want you see. I have constructed the parameters of which I will "let you into" and you get a piece of my real life but... heavens, no... you won't get to see ALL of my real life. I can get away with a lot of "pretending" with social entertaining but I can't be insincere with hospitality. 

 Hospitality is letting people into your hot mess.

It's letting people see the real me...the unedited, unfiltered version of my life. It's being willing to invite people to my table even though I know my table is far from perfect. I might not have the finer things of life...or a Pinterest-worthy home... or the perfect marriage... or children that sing "Kumbaya" on cue... but I still have an open place at my sticky, crumb-infested table for a person who needs to somewhere to belong.

Hospitality is saying, "There is room for you here.    It's a hot mess but your welcomed to be here."

     The mistake I have made over and over again is that I assume people want perfect. I assume people want to be inspired by my excellent life skills (or so I pretend to posses). I assume people are looking for me to have it all together but - 

      The truth is that people feel most at home with what they can relate to...and nobody can relate to perfect. 

      There is no need to "wow" folks when it comes to hospitality. The only requirement of hospitality is to make others feel "welcomed". And I can do that. I can make folks feel important and wanted. I can be a listening ear, an encouraging voice, a helping hand... a friend who is there... hot mess and all. 

  In the end, we all need to a place to belong.









     I am just going to come right out it and say it because I am big believer that ripping off the metaphorical bandaid is always the best way to go:

Going to a church is not going to guarantee you instant friendship.

It's not.

       It is very possible that you can attend a church for years and not feel like you have a single, true friendship. Many pastors will tell you that one of the biggest complaints they receive is that their church has to many "cliques" or is lacking a sense of "community". Bigger churches invest tons of money, time, and pastoral resources into developing a strong "small group ministry"... and still people will say, "I have no one to talk to after church on Sunday."

     A pastor friend once said to me, "We have to realize that the loneliest place to be sometimes is standing in the corner during coffee hour after a church service...hoping to find not just a friendly face....but a real friendship."

Folks are looking for more than a friendly face in a church logo t-shirt. They are looking for true friendship.
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Why do we still feel lonely even though we belong to a church community?

1. We have handed over the responsibility of "making friends" to our church leaders. 

     The only person that is responsible for making and maintaining friendship in our lives... is us. Church leaders are there to be helpful but they cannot be the "Match.com" of friendship in our lives... no matter how hard they try. And believe me, most pastors want the people they have the honor to serve to feel connected and cared for. This is why they work hard to try to meet everyone for coffee once in awhile.... or organize an effective small group ministry. Good pastors want people to feel like they belong. The problem is that  belonging is more than giving people something to attend. Belonging is a belief that people have accepted to be true in their lives.

2. We think that "Small Groups" will be where we find our people.

    I think small groups can be where we find our people but it doesn't always work out that way. There are two things that are fundamentals in friendship: Connection and Consistency. When you attend a small group, you need to have an organic connection with at least one member. It can be a small connection... but there has to be some kind of sense that "THIS PERSON GETS ME." The second thing is that you need to have consistent interaction with the people you feel there is a connection with.  Sometimes this happens in a "small group" and sometimes it doesn't. 

    A woman once told me a story about a time that she went to her pastor and said, "I am feeling lonely." The pastor replied, "Join a small group." She told him, "I did. I still feel lonely." The pastor shrugged his shoulders and walked away as if to say, "There is nothing else I can do for you then."

  Small groups are an opportunity for friendship but they aren't the only option for friendship... 

3. We believe our closest friends have to be apart of the church we personally attend.

   There are many of us who believe that our closest friendships must only be found in the church we attend. Not only is this belief untrue, it's unhealthy. The Kingdom of God is bigger than the local church we attend and we when we forget this, we can find ourselves in dangerous "isolating" waters. Deep, meaningful friendship can be cultivated outside the walls of our church... aaaaaaand dare I suggest... deep, meaningful friendships can even be cultivated with others who attend a different church.

    Our local church is a community we belong to BUT ultimately, we belong to the Kingdom of God... which offers an ample supply of wonderful souls we can build a connection with. This should encourage us!

4. We have friendship issues that we need to work through before we feel connected.

     As a person who has struggled with "friendship hurt" from my past, I can attest that until I dealt with my friendship issues...it was very difficult to have healthy friendships with others in my church. My perception of "community" was colored by my past experiences and I interpreted every encounter through the lens of rejection, betrayal, and spiritual abuse. I was not a fun person to try to be friends with.

   I remember being on staff at a church where the pastor called me into the office and said, "What happened at your last church? You seem so fearful to let people in." I immediately began to weep and share some of the hurt I had experienced. It was in that moment I realized the pain I was holding onto was shaping my perspective of the present. When I began to forgive... I began to find friendship in my new church community.

5. We have decided there is a "cool group" in church and those are the people we want to be friends with.

     Ugh. Even at church we can be tempted to see certain people as the "cool people". I once was at a women's retreat where a woman shared with me that she felt the church she was attending had a "hierarchy" of people who were considered the important folk you wanted to be friends with. When I asked her who were the "important people", she named all the members of the worship team and church staff. 

     It is easy to deem those who take "the stage" on Sunday morning as the "important people" or the "THE COOL TABLE OF CHURCH". There can be a temptation to revert to our 7th grade ways and want to be those "important people" to be our friends because some how it validates our own desire to be considered cool.

   Yet, we get hurt when these "important people"  are too busy to hang out or seem distant when they do. There are LOTS of reasons for that (which is an entirely another article I will write someday) but please...PLEASE listen to me:


      It's SOOOOO true! Every single person who walks through your church doors is important and has something amazing that God has put inside of them that will impact the world in an IMPORTANT way. So, don't pass up amazing friendship with people just because you don't call them "pastor" or because they are not launching a worship album. There is no cool table at church. We are ALL  invited to sit at Jesus' table and I don't care if that sounds cheesy. I believe it with all my heart.

     Going to church is not going to guarantee instant friendship but it's not a bad place to start looking for friendship.


  1.  It's our responsibility to make and maintain friends... not our church leaders.
  2. Small group is not the only option for friendships...
  3. Our closest friends do not have to attend the same church as we do.
  4. We have to work through our  friendship issues before we can feel truly connected.
  5. There is no "cool table" at church. 


The bottom line is that God wants us have to have friends.  

It's never His plan that we are chronically lonely.

Always your friend,



I am just going to lay it all out on the table here:

I was not always a safe person.


  • I spilled people's secrets.
  • I gossiped about friends.
  • I judged folks like a freakin' professional.

I was not always a safe person for my friends to be vulnerable with until...

I realized I needed a safe person I could show my raw, bleeding heart to. 

  When I was going through a very difficult situation in my life, it become evident to me that I really didn't have someone I could be reeeeeally honest with. There was no one in my circle that I felt safe enough to expose what was going on in my life without feeling like the information I shared could be used against me. Besides, I had been hurt before.

    The problem was that the less vulnerable I was more... the more disconnected I felt from others. I knew things had to change. I needed to speak up and let someone see the real me and the mess that was going on inside.

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   So, how DO we know if our friend is a safe person to be vulnerable with?


   In other words, a "safe" friend isn't always chronically expressing to you their negative opinions on how other people live their lives. 


"Personally, I feel like it's a little too soon for her to get married. I doubt the marriage will last."


  Sometimes "judgy-ness" is sugar coated with a shared concern or worse... formatted as a prayer request:


"Please pray for So-and-So. I am concerned she's getting remarried too soon and the marriage won't last." 



   The number one reason why we are hesitant to be vulnerable with others is because we fear we will be judged. Judgement makes us feel instantly unsafe. This is why we need non-judgemental friends in our lives. 

   If your friend is constantly judging all over the place... they probably aren't a safe person to be vulnerable with. 




   A friend who is safe is not someone who will chronically spill to you other people's personal business. They don't feel the need to "fill you in" on someone's past so that you "can better understand"


"Don't tell anyone I told you this... but they had problems in their marriage before. She cheated on him with a co-worker."


   When a friend tells you something about another person it can make you feel like you are "on the inside" and deceptively closer to the person spilling the information. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The reality is that you are probably just one in many folks they have said "Don't tell anyone I told you this but...". A big mouth plays no favorites.

    "Safe" friends are not over-sharers about other people's lives. 




     A friend who is safe is someone who, when in conflict with another friend, is not trying to recruit you to be on their side.


       "Can I just vent to you for a moment? You Know Who and I had a big fight and I just need to know that I am not the crazy one."


      Sometimes we DO need a third party to help us process a conflict with another person. "Venting" can be healthy and appropriate. There is a difference between venting and recruiting. Venting confides in and looks for guidance from one or two trusted friends. Recruiting is telling many friends about the conflict in hopes to gather a small army by their side.

    You'll know if your friend is "recruiting" by how many people they are "venting" to as well as what their "venting" consists of. A good question to ask is: Are they venting only about the specific conflict or are they trying to discredit the character of the other person?

    Recruiters are not a safe person to be vulnerable with because they use personal information about another to persuade others to be against them.



       A friend who is safe to be vulnerable with is someone who can be fully present with you and not always looking to turn the conversation to be about them.

      "Let me tell you story about me...


     Conversation hijackers  are unable to share the conversational space. They interrupt, talk over and never ask you follow up questions about what you have just shared. They are not always a safe person to be vulnerable with because they have poor listening skills and may only use your story as a platform to launch from into their next story...

    A friend who is safe will make sure you feel heard.


The real question we should ask ourselves is...


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Am I a safe person for my friends to be vulnerable with?

  • Am I judgmental? Do I always have a negative comment to make about other people's lives?
  • Am I a big mouth? Do I tell my friends personal information about other people they do not need to know?
  • Am I someone who recruits others to be on my side of a conflict? When I am not getting along with someone, do I want to make sure others don't want to get a long with them either?
  • Am I conversation hijacker? Am I always trying one up my friends with a better story or do I always bring the conversation back to my life?


    When I ask myself these questions, I know that I have not always been a safe person for my friends to be vulnerable with. As much as I need a "safe friends"... my friends need to able to find a "safe friend" in me too. 

      In order to thrive, we must feel like we can be vulnerable with someone. We have to feel like there is a safe person to tell. This is why we must both be on the look out for friends we can be vulnerable with but also intentionally become a friend that others can be vulnerable. In friendship, it's always about the give and take.

When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable.
— Madeline L'Engle


     Let's become "safe friends" for each other because, "to be alive is to be vulnerable".

Always a friend,




   Noelle Rhodes is the podcast host for the podcast show, Friending. She is writer and speaker about cultivating deep, meaningful female friendship in this modern day. You can find out more on how to book Noelle to speak at your next event or be on your podcast show here.

How To Help Your Friends Help You...

      One of favorite songs by The Beatles is, "With a Little Help From My Friends" , which was written for and sung by their beloved drummer, Ringo Starr. This is one my all time favorites because...um, hello?

    We all need a little help from our friends.

     Life can be poop. We all struggle and we all have our down days. Friends can be incredibly helpful in our hour of need...but sometimes we can make it difficult for them lend us a helping hand. 

     So, here are some practical tips on how you can help your friends help you...

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1. Remember that the majority of your friends are not mind readers. Speak up and let them know you would like their help.

     I used to make my friends play a guessing game when I found myself struggling. I would get quiet. I would withdraw. I would leave subtle clues that things may be difficult but then I would confuse them with strong statements like, "I'm. Fine."

   It took me years to realize that this tactic of trying to preserve my dignity while gaining my friends' help was useless. In fact, it would only frustrate the friendship. Instead of causing my friends to realize, "Hey...maybe Noelle needs some help" ... they were thinking things like, "Why is Noelle being so weird?"

     I wanted my friends to recognize that I was in need without ever having to admit it out loud. The best and most efficient way for friends to recognize that they can help you is to tell them so. No one is a mind reader. If talking on the phone or face to face feels too vulnerable at the moment, a text or email can do the job. In my experience, when I have text my friends to say, "I need your help", they have always been ready to give it. When I wait for them to catch on that I am in need... it wastes a lot of unnecessary time. I wind up feel hurt and neglected while they feel rejected and confused. 

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2. Give them a specific and practical way that they can help you.

     When we are going through something, our friends will often ask, "How can I help you?" Sometimes the crisis or difficulty is so overwhelming that we don't even know how to answer them. My advice is to give them the next practical and specific task that you need to address. A few examples of this could be:

Example 1:

     Your have experience a series of difficult weeks at work. You are feeling like your job might be on the line and your self esteem has taken a blow. Ask your friends to go see a movie with you to get your mind off of work issues.

Example 2:

    You are having marital difficulties. Things are really tense. You can't think of anything else but what's going on in your relationship.  Ask a friend to take your kids to the park for an hour just so you can collect your thoughts, talk to a counselor, or even go food shopping.

Example 3:

         One of your parents is very sick. You are feeling very sad and exhausted from caring for them. You have neglected your own home in the process.  Ask a friend if she could help you as you clean your house because you can use a helping hand and the company of a good friend.

   To have your needs best met by a friend, give them a clear and practical task that they can do for you. You're not being bossy. You are humbly asking for what you need. 

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3. Accept the help and don't feel guilty about it.

   The biggest issue when friends try to help us is that we won't let them. There is something about allowing a friend to offer a helping hand that stirs guilt into our heads. Don't feel guilty! One day, it will be your friend's turn and they will need your help. Your vulnerability in asking for help will have paved a guilt-free way for them to ask for help from you too. 

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   Think of Ringo singing to you right now...

   "Said I'm gonna get by with my friends, yeah (Ah, with a little help from my friends)
Oh, yes I'm gonna keep trying, now (Ah, with a little help from my friends)
Keep on trying with my friends (Ah, with a little help from my friends)
Oh, I'm never gonna stop there, oh (Ah, with a little help from my friends)
Gonna get by with my friends"

You WILL get by with a little help from your friends.

    When we communicate what we need and how they can meet it, our friends can become our greatest help. In most cases, it is not unwillingness that keeps our friends from helping... it is our lack of vulnerability. We can help our friends help us by letting them know we don't always have it altogether and that's why we need them.

 Always your friend,









    I research and talk about friendship.

I even host a podcast show called Friending (Shut up! Season 3 is coming out 02/13/18...but more on that later). I stalk other friendship experts like Shasta Nelson and Brené Brown (isn't she an expert on everything?)

But still.

    I can kinda suck as a friend ... (all my friends are tilting their heads and shrugging their shoulders about now) ...and this past year, my friendship game was weak.

  Normally, I spend the first couple days of January crafting lists of how I am going to become a better person to benefit...me ( i.e. .lose weight, be less busy, follow my dreams, blah, blah, blah) but this year I am not doing that. 


   This year, I decided to jot down a few ways I am going to be a better friend in 2018.

    Let's be honest, even if we sustain our "New Year's Resolutions" and become better versions of ourselves... if we aren't better to the people we love... what does it really matter? I can lose all the weight and still be an absentee friend. All that makes me is a more skinny, lonely person.

So, here's the plan:

#1 This year, I am putting "face to face/in the flesh" contact with my friends on my calendar. 

     The problem with social media, texting, and smart phones... is that I can easily stay updated with my friends' lives without ever having to see them in person. This is helpful with my long-distance friendships, but folks, I have a close friend who live 20 minutes away from me that I have not seen in person in months. Why? Because we talk everyday on Voxer. All the research and science tell us that that there is no substitution for face to face/in the flesh contact with friends. Loneliness cannot be overcome virtually or remotely. We need to physically be present with our people to be reminded that we do not do this life alone. 

  My life can get busy with two kids (one with special needs) and the only way I am going to make sure I see my friends in person is if I am make it a non-negotionable on my calendar.


#2 This year, I am organizing more fun things for me to do with my friends.

     Look, I enjoy a good "coffee + chat with my bestie" like the next person, but I am starting to realize that there is possibly more to life than coffee (I just heard you audibly gasp).

    As I think back on my most favorite memories with my friends... it surprised me how many of my favorites were when my friend(s) and I did a specific activity together. Even taking a simple walk with a friend stood out in my mind as one of the meaningful moments we have shared in our friendship. We must have sipped on a thousand cups of coffee together... but it was that single walk that was highlighted in my brain as a favorite memory.

   This year, I want to be intentional about doing fun things with my friends (everything from hosting another "Oscar's Party" to going rollerskating at the local rink). It's shocking that how often i help my kids arrange fun play dates with their friends...but I never think to do the same for myself. 2018 is going to be the year of friend playdates for me! 


#3 Stop trying to be besties with everyone and invest in the friendships I have already cultivated.

      As an extrovert, one of the friendship crimes I  often commit is that I spread myself too thin with people. I just want to get to know everyone and make everyone my friend!  After 35 years, I have finally come to accept that this is not reality. In fact, this is not even healthy. The more friends I have, the less quality time I have to give to people. The less quality time I have to give to people, the less quality friendships I sustain.

       There is a big difference between befriending everyone and being friendly to everyone. The latter is not optional. I must be kind to everyone but I don't have to make it my sole mission to be everyone's friend. What I do need to do, is take a sober look at the people in my life who I want to cultivate a stronger friendship with... and become more intentional in investing in them.


My friends have made the story of my life. In a thousand ways they have turned my limitations into beautiful privileges, and enabled me to walk serene and happy in the shadow cast by my deprivation.
— Helen Keller


    What is going to make 2018 a great year?

    Our friends.






       "I am sure others feel the same as you."  I watched her as she  pushed the half-half towards me because she knows its the only way I drink my coffee these days, "Nobody really  knows what they want to be when they grow up anymore." 

        All I could think about as she spoke, was how I should be grown up enough to drink my coffee black and I can't even do that.

   The problem is that ten years ago,  I had this adult thing all figured out. I knew everything. 

        I knew what I wanted to be and how I wanted to live. Ten years ago, I would have imagined myself living very differently than I do. In fact, "mid-twenties Noelle" would be quite surprised that "mid-thirties Noelle" doesn't have her own talk show by now - because clearly, I'd have my crap so together, everyone would want to know how to be me.



   After having a lived a little bit of life, I feel hardly the expert or accomplished.  If anything, I feel like an adulthood drop-out who is way behind in achieving my mid-twenties plan.

     The American Dream is a quiet and judgmental presence that sits at your table with her arms crossed and a disapproving look upon her face. Like a great-aunt who questions your life choices at every family gathering, the American Dream leans in to you just at your most vulnerable moment and says, "So, what are you actually  planning to do with your life? Cause' clearly this isn't cutting it." One by one, she highlights the failures:

 Don't own your own house?     Slacker.

Drive a car older than five years?    Deadbeat.

No graduate degrees?    Dropout. 

Less than a thousand Insta followers?   Nobody.

Don't have a career that you love and are making six figures from?    Disappointment.

Do any of these things really matter? No. Well, at least that's what we say... but I suspect that we have secretly made these the markers of how we self-grade our lives. And some of us feel like we are failing. Our mid-twenties selves would be disappointed with our mid-thirties selves and there can be a lot of shame wrapped up in that. We are wandering towards our forties mumbling to those around us, "Wait! I don't know what to do with my life! I'm behind!" 



   "So, what do you want to be when you grow up?" my friend asked as she offered me a spoon to stir my coffee.

  "I don't know. Betty White?" I answered, "Or maybe the Queen of England."

 "Don't we all?" she laughed and then took a tiny sip of her pour over. "But what if we just grow up to be decent and lovely human beings? Will that be enough?"

  I thought about it for a moment. If my life never achieves my  "mid-twenties life-plan", will I be okay with becoming a decent and lovely human being... and nothing more? 

   "Maybe, " I said. "but pass me the half and half again. I can't drink this coffee so strong."


  Noelle is a    speaker  , podcaster, and an everyday encourager .   She is the podcast producer/host for   Friending Podcast   and is a regular co-host for the podcast,   Slices of Life  . She lives in North Jersey with her    husband and two children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.         For more random facts on Noelle you can    click here    or stalk her on   Instagram  .

  Noelle is a  speaker, podcaster, and an everyday encourager She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her  husband and two children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

       For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.






     When your kid has special needs, it's not long before  you are looking hard for your "village". You quickly realize that you cannot do it alone - physically, mentally, emotionally...even spiritually. It's just not possible. There are too many unknowns and nuances to juggle. You'd have to  live  on island of denial to think you could handle it all by yourself.

    Because I know, I can't.


      When we first realized that Silas was different, I was a wreck. I was not the "we will get on with it" kind of mother. I was in mourning. I mourned the kid I thought I was going to raise. I needed my friends to:

1) Listen + Speak Hope.

     They listened to me share my fears and cry my tears... a lot. My friends were very good at not saying things like "I don't know why you are so upset. It could be so much worse..." My friends possessed a graciousness that I was in desperate need  of - a safe space to fall apart. While I was on the floor of my despair they would gently but directly speak words of hope: "Noelle, Silas is fabulous and his story is going to be fabulous."

      As we journeyed on with our son's development, there were a lot unique challenges along the way. Silas is "behind" his typically developing peers. This hasn't always been easy to watch. I always found children's birthday parties to be particularly difficult for me. It was tempting to compare our son with the other children who were his age. I needed my friends to :

2) Celebrate our Child's Unique Progress + Speak Hope.

          With every milestone, our son was enthusiastically celebrated by the friends around us. Our friends became "fans of Silas". They not only cheered him on but they continued to speak hope towards his future. I remember one friend commenting to me about how Silas showed compassion towards her baby who was crying, "Silas is so  good with people he knows are more vulnerable and helpless than him. I can see him being a great man of compassion who does a lot of good in this world."  I have never forgotten her words and every time Silas stops to  speak to a little baby, I think about his compassionate nature and my friend's words of hope towards his future.

      When your child has special needs, there are  parts of the journey that are painful - even infuriating.  There are moments where you might even want to kick  someone's teeth in. During these times I needed my friends to: 


3) Get Angry With Me + Speak Hope.

      When you are parent of child with special needs you can feel a little crazy at times. It can feel like you are the only one who cares. It's painful to see your kid get left out of the social circle that they would have been in had they been "typical". It's infuriating to be in an IEP meeting where you are getting a lot lip service but not a lot of progress is being made. It makes you mad. It makes me mad but one of the most encouraging words I could hear in those moments is a friend saying,

"I'm mad too."

     I can't explain why - but it helps to know that I not the only one who is angry. I remember once Silas was made fun of by a group of boys. I remember being so angry that tears will spilling out from my eyes when I told the story to a friend. My friend said to me, "May all those little boys lose their hair prematurely!" I laughed so hard in that moment but knowing my friend was mad too helped ease the sting of it. She then took me by the hand and said, "Silas is going to be a person who understands what it's like to be misunderstood and because of that - he will have many friends."  Hearing her words of hope made me less anxious for his future. In fact, I was hopeful.



    The greatest gift my friends have given me, as a mother of a child with special needs, is the gift of hope. As they have hoped...spoke words of hope - it has sparked me to hold onto hope too.






       I'm sitting in Panera's right now... crying like a baby. In between sipping my free-refill dark roast coffee and trying to wipe the snot from my face ... I am writing to you. Weeping like a fool.

Here's the thing:

The last 60 days were the worst.

Like the worst.

         Those of you who know me or know of me, may be curious as to "what is going in Noelle's life?" but the details are not all mine to own and I'll need you to understand that. 

But a lot went down.

       And I had to temporarily step back from a few things I love (like the Friending Podcast) to tend to the people I love the most...my family. It was hard to do but it was the right thing to do so I did it. I'm still doing it. 

  In the midst of going through a season that was already terrible, our hearing impaired son's hearing aid broke. It was having problems for a while since it wasn't really suited to support all the special equipment he uses in school (such as an FM system and Roger Mic). Intially, I didn't panic because we had nearly met our son's deductible due to all the appointments he has throughout the year regarding his hearing. I thought, "Surely, our insurance will cover some of the cost of getting him hearing aids that will be strong enough for what he needs them for." 

     To make a very long story short - I was wrong.

    This news broke me. Hearing aids are incredibly expensive and I knew we did not have the money to pay for them. I felt like we had failed our son as his parents. I felt like I had failed in life in general and I was already having a terrible 60 days. I cried and cried and called my closest friends and cried to them.

     I was such in a bad way, my sister-in-law, Jenna, showed up at my house with three cupcakes and said, "I want to start a Go Fund Me to help raise money for Silas' hearing aids."

        I told her "thank you for the cupcakes but no thank you to the Go Fund Me. I can't ask people to help us."   After having been a missionary for 6 years, where we relied on the monthly financial support of others, I couldn't muster up any strength to ask for help. I just cried and ate cupcakes. But my sister-in-law persisted and said, "I want to do this for you."


    And she did.

     Within an hour of her posting the Go Fund Me, $2000.00 were raised!  I didn't believe her until I checked the link she sent me. Over the next week, more and more people from all over the world began to donate money and share the post. This morning while sitting in Panera's , I received a phone call to tell me that nearly $5000 have been raised to help pay for the hearing aids Silas needs. 

Hence, why I am crying.

   Because there is a healing power that comes when we let others help us. It takes a lot of vulnerability and courage to say, "I can't do this on my own. Can someone help me?" Sometimes we don't even have the strength to say that - the shame is too heavy. We need to let our friends help carry the burden when they see us struggling and say,

"Hey! This is too heavy for you to hold on your own! Move over! I am helping!"

   Yes, these last 60 days were pretty terrible but as I have seen the generosity and genuine care of others (even strangers) come to help us, I have begun to remember what hope feels like again... healing is taking place... and I am learning that:

   Letting others help in times of need is not admitting failure as a human... it's admitting that you are simply human. Period.

We are not created to do life on our own. We need each other. 

   Many thanks to all of you who have donated to help us Silas' getting new hearing aids.  I am humbled by your heart to care for Silas this way. I don't have the words to express my gratitude at this moment. Even as I type these final words, I can sense the ugly crying coming on. So, I'll need to save my words of appreciation for when I am writing in the privacy of my home. But until then,  please know... Troy, Olive, myself and of course, Silas:

Thank you.



    And to you, dear friend, who is also having a season of pain, shame, and terribleness:

Let those offering, help you.

You and I can't do this alone. We need our people to help us. We do.

Your friend,













Let's face it. We've all been the bad friend.

We've forgotten to call.

We didn't show up.

We told a secret.

We didn't invite.

We made it about ourselves.

We didn't really listen.

We spoke too strongly.

We didn't speak up at all.

We blame shifted.

We gave the silent treatment.

We were too busy.

We stole the limelight.

We took for granted.

This list could on.


So, here's the thing:

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     We've all been the bad friend at some point in someone's life. In fact, there is a strong possibility that someone is out there right now  telling their "Bad Friend" story and YOU are the antagonist.  The hard cold truth is that we have NOT been Mr. Rogers to every person we've ever known. Does this make us terrible people?


Well,  actually yes...

Alright, maybe.

   Maybe we have been a terrible friend at some point in our life journey but here's what we can do about it:

1. 'FESS UP.

    If we want to be a good friend from here on out, it's important to acknowledge that there has been times where we have been a bad friend. Look at the list above. Which of those things have  you been guilty of? Telling secrets? Forgetting to call? Giving the silent treatment? Take honest look and face your friendship crimes. But don't wallow in your mistakes. Work on them! If you need to make more time for friends, listen to podcasts or read books on the work/life balance. If you need to get better at addressing conflict, talk to a coach or counselor about sharpening communication skills. Fessing' up to your specific friendship crimes will help you know exactly where you can improve.


  Focus in on the healthy, consistent friendships you have going on in your life currently. Become intentional at improving your friendship skills. Commit to becoming a great listener! Make room in your schedule so you can show up to your friend's important events! Learn to communicate when there is conflict! Choose to be the cheerleader instead of always trying to steal the show! Be awesome at staying in touch!  It's never too late to become a great friend to the people you are friends with today!


     There may come a time when a friend lets YOU down. Don't forget how easy it is to be the bad friend. When a friend commits a friendship crime against you, gently confront them. Give them opportunity to change. Extend grace as one has been a bad friend before. If this friend continues to hurt you, clearly communicate your choice to put a healthy distance in the friendship. It's important that we don't allow others to continually treat us badly just because we ourselves have let others down in our past. Sometimes being a good friend is saying good-bye to an unhealthy friendship.

Sometimes being a good friend is saying good-bye to an unhealthy friendship..png


    Yes, we've all been the bad friend at one point or other - but hey,

We can be better.

Your friend, 




       Noelle is a  speaker, podcaster, and self proclaimed: Friendtor(Friend +Mentor = Friendtor).  She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

      Noelle is passionate about helping women find grow in their calling and encourage one another to do the same through the art of friendship.   For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.


          Let's just cut to the chase, shall we?

Motherhood can be lonely.

       Standing in the school yard, waiting to pick up your kid, you may find yourself  scanning the playground for another familiar "Mommy" face to stand next to.  You may notice the groups of moms all huddled together. They have found their squad to belong to... while you stand on the outskirts looking in.

"Is there anyone here that will be my friend?"

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  When I first became a mom, I naturally assumed that I would find "my people" ... other likeminded mommies that would become my "village". It didn't quite happen as organically as I hoped. In fact, I felt terribly lonely and my loneliness made me feel like some kind of freak. "What is wrong with me? Why I am finding it so hard to connect with other moms?" 

The more isolated I felt, the more overwhelmed I became by motherhood.


    I had to do something or I was going to go crazy. I had to find my "mom squad" - women that would support me as a mother. So, I took a deep breath and ...

1. Got over myself.

       I am going to be honest with you. The biggest reason why I found myself so lonely as a mom was because I was very insecure. I was constantly worried and obsessing over whether other women liked me or if they approved of how I mothered. I was a hot mess of low self-esteem. I never asked anyone to hang out because I was terrified of rejection. When I did attend events or gatherings I was invited to, I acted awkwardly because I was always trying to figure out what version of "me" the other moms  would like. It. Was. Awful.

   If I was going to overcome loneliness, I had to get over myself. And that's what I did. I learned to embrace my own awesomeness and stop worrying about what others thought. The more comfortable I became with who I was as a person and as a mother, the easier it became to find and connect with other moms.


2. Gave up my expectations.

     I had to give up the "Hollywood" fantasy of what I thought a mom squad would be. In my mind, it was a group of 5 mothers, whose children attend the same school together. We all volunteered for the same events and we would all meet every Tuesday for brunch at our favorite corner cafe - dressed in yoga pants and top buns.

 This is not always reality.

  In fact, my mom squad is made up women from all around the world - and some of them are not even mothers. Once I let go of my "fantasy" mom squad, I was able to cultivate deep friendships with women who have truly made be a better mom.

3. Got together with other mothers.

      Look, moms need to be together. I realized that I needed to find places where this could happen easily. So, when my kids were little, I went to a "Mom + Tots" group and it was one of the best decisions I made as a new mom. My toddler and baby played while I had coffee and cookies with women who were in the same season of life as me. Did I become best friends with all the women? No. But it was wonderful to have adult conversation with someone else who understood the misery of having 2 children in diapers. I used to call those Friday mornings, my "Sanity Hour". It was a place where I felt like I wasn't alone or crazy.

4. Gave it my attention.

      Bottom line: As a mother,  I have made my friendships a priority. This isn't always easy because I have little people in my life who rightfully take up a lot of my time. Yet, if I want to be a good mom, I need to consistently cultivate healthy friendships in my life. When I am feeling lonely, it's often because I have stopping being intentional in connecting with others. Loneliness has only hindered my ability to parent well. Connectedness has helped me find success as a mom.

   Mama friend, if you are feeling lonely - please know that you are not the only one.

You are not the only lonely mom..png

We have all felt isolated at some point in the journey but please believe when I say:


And for your kids' sake and your sanity, please don't choose to be. It really does take a village.

From one mama's heart to another,



PS: If you are mama looking for a friend right now, please don't hesitate to reach out:

Name *



Noelle is a  speaker, podcaster, and self proclaimed: Friendtor(Friend +Mentor = Friendtor).  She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

      Noelle is passionate about helping women find grow in their calling and encourage one another to do the same through the art of friendship.   For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.


         When you move internationally with a 9 and 7 year old in the middle of the school year - you worry as a parent. You worry...

"Will they make new friends?"

"Will they be able to maintain their old friendships from long distance?"

"Will they fall into the right crowd?"

"Will they be bullied for being the new kid?"

"Will they be bullied for being the kid with special needs?"

"Will they feel lonely?"

     The following above are  just my top 6 friendship worries for my children. I promise you, I often carry an anthology of concerns as a mother. It's something I'm working on but I thought you should know. I, too, worry for my kid's and their friendships.

Friendship is a BIG deal to a child. When they experience friendship pain or loneliness, it can be heart wrenching and powerless to watch as a parent.

      "How do I make these kids be nice to my kid?" I once asked my mother. I'll never forget how her eyes watered when she answered,

     "You can't." 

    This past June, a 12 year old girl, from a local community nearby, committed suicide after a year of being bullied from a group of "friends". 12. Years. Old. Aaaaaaaaaand from what I can tell...she came from a stable, loving home and was a star student and athlete.

 A few mothers at my children's swim practice were discussing this tragic event. One mother said, 

    "I can't imagine 12 year old girls being so cruel that a child would take her own life." Not a beat went by when an older mother with teenagers spoke up:

    "I can. My girls barely made it out of middle school alive."

    You could tell from the tone of her voice that she and her girls had survived some kind of severe friendship pain. No one in that circle of mothers was brave enough to ask what had happened. We were all too afraid to hear what kind of pain that our kids might have to face in the future. 

   As a researcher of friendship and as someone who speaks about friendship regularly, I know the science - friendship pain is inevitable. Not one of us escapes being rejected by our peers or experiencing seasons of loneliness. I also know that friendship is vital to our health and emotional wellbeing. We weren't created to be alone. 

Genesis 2:18 says, 

   " Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”

From the very beginning, our lives were designed to THRIVE alongside of others.


  So, what do I do, as a parent, who knows that friendship is important and that friendship pain is inevitable? How to do I help my kids?


   This may seem elementary but it's something that I have overlooked for many years. I have failed to pray for my children's friendships. Only when crisis hits, do I think to ask Jesus for a little help. 

    As I have been preparing my kids for a new school year with new backpacks, lunch bags, and supplies, I realized that I need to prepare them for a new school year of friendships too. The best way for me to prepare is to pray. I began to outline a 31-Day prayer schedule for myself. I told a friend about it when I was confessing that I was going to battle my friendships concerns for my kids with prayer. She said,

  "Send me a copy of it. I'd like to pray for my kid's friendships too."

This is how the 31-Days of Praying for Your Child's Friendship Podcast Prayer Guide was born. 

It's free.

It's short.

It's not rocket science or magic.

It's simply prayer.

And if it's something that you would find helpful, by all means...

'Cause I am just like you - a parent who wants my kids to have healthy and life-giving friendships. 

Your friend,



 Noelle is a  speaker, podcaster, and self proclaimed: Friendtor(Friend +Mentor = Friendtor).  She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

      Noelle is passionate about helping women find grow in their calling and encourage one another to do the same through the art of friendship.   For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.







 Friendship is learned.

   We learn the art of friendship by observation and practice.  Whether we are aware of it or not, our kids are receiving an education in "how to be a friend" everyday.  The question is, "Are they learning how to be a good friend?"

  More and more, as I research friendship, I am convinced that children learn friendship best from their parents. So, this summer, I sat back and thought, "Am I intentionally teaching my kids how to be a GOOD friend?"

   With all the work I do with Friending Podcast and speaking about friendship, I realized that I have kinda dropped the ball in teaching my kids what a healthy friendship is supposed to look like. So, I put my in butt in gear and decided NOW is the time to help my children cultivate a lifelong skill that will not only positively impact their physical health but also their outlook on their future.



      I sat my kids down one morning and asked them, "How can you be a better friend?" Their answers were mature and insightful: 

"I want to tell my friends that they are awesome more often..."

"I want to not be so bossy when we are playing games..."

"I want to make sure everyone is included..."

"I want to make a new friend this school year..."

      A few days a later, I had them create their own "Friendship Goals" vision boards to help remind them what kind of friend they want to be.

    Dear friend, please know that  I am not crafty. At. All. So, this activity was thrown together because the Christmas Tree Shop had a 2 for 1 sale on blank canvases. My daughter (who is the arty one) found a box of puff paints and old markers stuffed under her bed. "
Friendship Goals" vision boards does not have to be fancy. They only need to be visual

   Both of their "Friendship Goals" vision boards are proudly displayed in each of their bedrooms and they have  become a great conversation piece at bedtime. The "Friendship Goals
vision boards serve as a  reminder of their own desire to be a good friend and the steps they want to take to be a good friend. It's also something that I can hold them accountable to.




    There are healthy and unhealthy friendship habits. Encouragement is a healthy friendship habit. Communicating to a friend how they are specifically awesome is encouragement. Manipulation is an unhealthy friendship habit. Giving your friend the silent treatment because they did not do what you wanted them to do is manipulation. I realized that my kids need me to show them the distinction between what is healthy and what is not.

  There is a popular saying, that even I have been guilty of quoting. and that is,

"Kids will be kids."

    This is true. Kids will be kids, but even still, kids need to be taught what is right. If I notice that one of kids' friendship groups have an unhealthy habit of excluding others, it's my responsibility to say, "Uh, that's not right. That's not healthy." 

  In the same way, when my child tells me that a friend drew them a card to help cheer them up, I need to point out that this is a healthy quality in their friendship: "Wow! I am so glad  you have a friend who notices when you are upset and tries to help you feel better. This is what a good friend does."

  It's important to take the time to make sure my kids know how a good friend treats others. I am always shocked when I hear of stories of children who have been bullied for years by their so-called "best friend". When asked why they let themselves be mistreated for so long many of them say, "I didn't know any different." Whoa.



     They say that children learn more from what their parents practice then what their parents preach. If want my kids to learn to be a good friend, than I need to be a good friend. This means, I need to show up in my friends' lives on a regular basis. I need to have healthy boundaries within my friendships. AND I need to actually go out and spend time with my friends... and not use my children as an excuse to not to.

    Friendship is a lifelong skill that I am always trying to sharpen. I don't think I will ever be the "perfect friend" but I would love to become someone that my kids could say, "My mom was a good friend. I learned a lot from watching her."

For more on how to help your child become a good friend listen to Episode 31 (Helping Your Kids With Friendship) on Friending Podcast:




Noelle is a  speaker, podcaster, and self proclaimed: Friendtor(Friend +Mentor = Friendtor).  She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

      Noelle is passionate about helping women find grow in their calling and encourage one another to do the same through the art of friendship.   For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.


  On January 21, 2017, 440,000 to 500,000 people gathered in Washington DC along with a  worldwide participation of an estimated five million people for the Women's March.  It is said to be the largest single-day protest in US History.

   Women's rights are important to me and not just because I'm female. They are important to me because I have an eight year old daughter and it's my desire (along with her father's) that she has all the space to grow up to be everything she is meant to be. 

   As much as I want misogyny, sexism, and inequality to end FOREVER, there is a greater present threat against my daughter that concerns me...

The other girls in her class.

    The extremes of bullying between girls has become more disturbing, prevalent and younger. I  cried when I read about the 11 year old girl who had boiling hot water thrown on her face and body when she was at sleepover. In my own community, a 12 year old girl committed suicide after being tortured by a group of girls from her school with bullying-text messages for a long period of time. The last text message  she received from one of these girls was an encouragement for her to kill herself ... and she did. As a community, we are shaken to our core. These are our kids. These are our girls and they are doing this to each other.

       Looking back on my own childhood and adolescence, my greatest pain did not come from heartbreak of boyfriends but rather from the girls who ripped apart my reputation and told lies about me. Fortunately, I didn't have to suffer their abuse 24/7 because they did not have that kind of constant access to me. There was no texting back then.  When I was home with my parents, I was truly safe from those girls' cruelty. My daughter, on the other hand, lives in a very different world and it's only for so long that I will be able to protect from her own kind.

  As women, we have the right to be treated with dignity, respect, and kindness. When we are not, we should speak up... but what do we do when it's our own fellow sisters that are mistreating us?

   This summer, I began to ask myself this question: HOW CAN I BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION? I realized that first and foremost:

I must decide and commit to intentionally raising my daughter to empower other women.

    What does this look like?


      I tell my daughter constantly that it is her responsibility to embrace her uniqueness and it's our responsibility to accept her for who she is. She does not have to become like anyone else to find belonging. In our home, she is accepted. Both my husband and I are followers of Jesus, but our children know that their faith is their own decision to make - and no. matter. what. - they will always be accepted and embraced by us. If my daughter cannot find dignity, respect and kindness in her own home, then what chance does she have in requiring it of others?


     Girl power is always to be meant for good. Girls should not gang up to tear down other girls. Girls should not use their voice to threaten or belittle other girls (or anyone for that matter). Girls should never organize themselves to bully or to exclude, but rather girls should rally together to promote the good of the entire community. I have explained to my daughter that if she sees others misusing their power or voice to hurt another person that she should feel free to speak up and to tell an adult. It's not okay for anyone to be unkind ...but girls need to stick together.


      I have taught my daughter how to compliment and make positive comments about another. In a world, where gossip is juicy and poisonous, we need to teach kids to speak kindly to and about each other. I told her that when a friend does well on a test ... or is wearing an awesome shirt ... or is super good at 4 Squares, that she should point that out to them. We have a saying in our home and that is, "Catch others doing something right."


     If my daughter is with  group of girls who become catty, I will point it out to her. If I find that she is not speaking up when others are tearing down another girl, I will call her to task. If another parent informs that my daughter has not been kind , I will take that accusation seriously. Mistreating others will not tolerated and will not be excused. Why?

Because women's rights are important and as women, we need to model it's importance by  treating each other with the dignity, respect, and kindness we deserve.


           One of things my daughter and I decided to do this summer was to make a pact. We decided to be women who empowered other women. In honor of our pact, we made two made two bracelets. One for her and one for me. Each are similar but different and represent our uniqueness.


    We wear our bracelets to remind ourselves that we do not have to change who we are to belong. We will always accept and embrace each as we are no matter what. We wear our bracelets to remind ourselves that we want to be women who really truly use our Girl Power to help others. We wear our bracelets to remind ourselves that it our great duty to help other females recognize their own awesomeness. We wear our bracelets to recognize that we are a part of a great worldwide tribe of women and together....we are better.

    May our daughters grow to be the most fiercely loving and kind generation ever. And may they stand on our shoulders to do so. Amen.

Your friend,


* Photos by : Mykowski Imagery


    Noelle is a  speaker, podcaster, and self proclaimed: Friendtor(Friend +Mentor = Friendtor).  She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

      Noelle is passionate about helping women find grow in their calling and encourage one another to do the same through the art of friendship.   For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.



The definition for the word, MOXIE, is: 


1. vigor; verve; pep. 

2. courage and aggressiveness; nerve. 

3. skill; know-how. 


     Moxie friends are the energetic souls in our life who always seem to have plenty of nerve in supply when it comes to challenges and opportunities they face. These are the people who never ask themselves, "Do I have the ability to do this?" They just do it. Almost always, they are met with success in whatever they dive into and we are always left scratching our heads saying, "If they could do it...could I?" 


    Our moxie friends are the living proof that some risks are worth taking.


    The audacious spirits of our moxie friends is contagious. Watching them achieve their  dreams or wade through their challenges gives us reason to pause and consider our own possibilities. When we are around these kinds of friends we begin to wonder that perhaps our own dreams are not as unrealistic as we had once believed.


      We begin to muster up our own portion of moxie.


      Moxie friends are incredible encouragers. They truly believe that "anything is possible" and generally have a positive outlook on life. When you are going through something difficult, they are the ones that come along your side and cheer, "You can this! I believe in you! Don't give up!" These friends help stir courage inside of us when we feel afraid or alone. They are natural speakers of hope.

       Moxie friends want to cheer on our dreams. Over a casual cup of coffee, a moxie friend will ask:

   "So, what about that book you said you wanted to write? You should do it! Get it published!"

    When you tell them that you work a full time job or that the publishing industry is difficult to break into, your moxie friend will hush you with, "You've got to least try! What's the worst that can happen?"


   Moxie friends don't let us give up or give in.

   They are not easily manipulated by our self-pity and they are rarely are influenced by our self-doubt. Their super power is bravery and as they exercise it within their own lives, they instinctively share this strength with us. This is why need them.


    So, who is the moxie friend in your life?

Tell them. Tell them that their moxie makes you a braver person in this world. Tell them that you appreciate the positive outlook they bring and the hope-filled words that speak. Even a moxie friend needs to have someone to encourage them too

   Your friend,





     Noelle is a  speaker, podcaster, and self proclaimed: Friendtor(Friend +Mentor = Friendtor).  She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

      Noelle is passionate about helping women find grow in their calling and encourage one another to do the same through the art of friendship.   For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.



    When I was in 7th grade, my best friend knew all the words to Blue's Traveller's hit song, "Hook". If you know the song, you can see how a 7th grader living in the mid 90's could be impressed by this feat.

  When I discovered that Lindsey also owned the CD  (yes, I did just date myself there) of "FOUR" (Blue's Traveller's breakout album), I knew we would be besties.

     She and I would lay on her full size bed and replay the song over and over again.  Lindsey would sing the words perfectly each time as I marveled. Truth be told,  I was grateful that I had friend who didn't mind playing Blue's Traveller over and over again. Together, we pinky swore to remain their loyal fans forever... 

     Music has a magical way of connecting us to others. When children/ middle school age students begin to identify their musical tastes, they have a tendency to align themselves with other musically like-minded peers. I can still remember when I met a girl at camp who was listening to Lisa Loeb on her Discman. I distintcly remember saying to her, "Oh my god! Lisa Loeb! We should be friends!"  

  Even as an adult, looking to make new friends in a new neighborhood, I am always looking out for a person who likes the same music as me. Anyone who loves Motown, knows who Better than Ezra is , or is not ashamed to admit that they have wept at a U2 concert, will be probably find a friend in me.

    There is no doubt in anyone's mind that music influences us. So, when you come across someone else who is influenced by the same lyrics and melodies as you - you take notice. "Oh? You like this music too? Could you be my person?"

  Music helps us find each other. 

  Music also give us good reason to get together.

  I have watched my mother and her friends come alive on wedding dance floors when one of their old favorites is played. Nobody boogies likes Mrs. P boogies - it just takes the right song.  The music not only inspires her little posse to kick off their heels and let loose, but it intrinsically sets them apart as a group. As if to say, "This is our song from our time and we belong to each other."

      Just last night, my eight old led a choir of her friends in a karaoke of Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off". They danced and sang the song with gusto. This wasn't just "play" . This was making "music" together. Every once in while, when I get fed up hearing that karaoke machine blast through my home, I have to remind myself, "She has so much fun singing with her friends. I will hold off in murdering this machine just a while longer..."

    Bottom line: Music helps us find each other and gives us good reason to get together.


So, turn up your music.

You never know who you might find singing along with you.


Your friend,


*For more on music and friendship, listen to Episode 29 of Friending Podcast: THE SOUNDTRACK OF FRIENDSHIP.


 Noelle is a  speaker, podcaster, and self proclaimed: Friendtor(Friend +Mentor = Friendtor).  She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

      Noelle is passionate about helping women find grow in their calling and encourage one another to do the same through the art of friendship.   For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.






Dear Friends of the Past,

      Some time ago, you and I were friends. For various reasons or perhaps no good reason at all, our friendship came to an end. We don't talk. We don't meet up. We do not even connect via social media with a click of a "like" or the annual birthday greeting posted on a news feed somewhere. Simply put, we are not in each other's lives at all

    The research tells us that this is normal - "friendship breaks ups are inevitable". Whether the ending of a friendship is specifically verbalized or the silent drifting apart quietly suffocates the life of a friendship..... the experts all agree that friendships ending is a common social pain. We will all make friends and lose friends.

      The initial anger, confusion, hurt, and shame all faded with time. In same cases, it took a lot of time but each of us made new friends and the loss of what you and I had was filled in with new memories shared with another.


       I am not writing to highlight any blame on your part. I know that I carry a good portion of the cause of why we ended in the first place: I stopped showing up, I didn't know how to be there for you, I was to self-preoccupied with my own life, I moved and was bad at keeping in touch, I hurt you with something I said, I hurt you by not saying anything at all, I took the other person's side, I required too much and I gave you too little. Did I miss anything? I wouldn't be surprised if I did.

 I wanted to say that I am sorry. 

     And I wanted to tell you that I remember the good times and the good things you gave me too.

    I remember how you poured me a cup of tea when I landed on your front stoop one early morning, crying my eyes out. I remember how you made me laugh so hard that I literally did pee my pants and then you pinky swore not to tell a soul. I remember our long drives, on our way to a great adventure, with the windows rolled down and us singing along to the music from the top of our lungs. I remember all ways you celebrated my birthday because you knew I have "birthday issues". I still smile when I remember one of our inside jokes and the silly nicknames we affectionately bestowed upon each other.

I remember it all. 

     Truthfully, I don't know if our paths will ever cross again. I am doubtful that we will have some kind of  dramatic moment "of talking things out" or reconnecting "like old times". I am not opposed to this but I am realistic that our lives have moved on.

Most friendships are just for a season but all friendships leave a  life-long impact. 


   Although, we are no longer friends, I wanted to tell you that your friendship is meaningful to me. Despite what has "gone down" and despite "growing apart", I recognize the good part of the story you wrote in my life. I am thankful for the good times and the good things you gave me.  I am thankful for you.

  Yours truly,






 Noelle is a  speaker, podcaster, and self proclaimed: Friendtor(Friend +Mentor = Friendtor).  She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

      Noelle is passionate about helping women find grow in their calling and encourage one another to do the same through the art of friendship.   For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.




      Several years ago, my friend lost a baby.

     I remember when her husband called me. His voice pushed through as he choked by the tears, 

"There was no heart beat."

     I didn't know what to do. I had no idea of what to say. I was terrified to do or say anything that would cause my friend more pain than what she was already having to deal with. So, I did nothing.

All I could offer her was a vague email to say, "If you need anything, call me."

   Her husband called me  and said, "Do you think you could come see her?" 

   I was hesitant.  "Are you sure?"  Miscarriages often feel like it a "private" matter. I assumed my friend wanted privacy as she grieved. Her husband pleaded, 

              "Please, Noelle. I don't want her to be alone."

 So, I went.

         I called my mother, who had lost baby in utero when she was six months pregnant (with my brother, Jonah, who would be 23 this October if he was alive). I asked my mother for advice for how I can be there for my friend. She said in her beautiful,thick Jersey accent,

"Everyone grieves differently but everyone wants to know that someone cares. Show her you care."


 It was the best advice that anyone could give me.


   Sadly, a few of my dear friends have lost babies over the last 15 years. My mother was right - each of them have grieved their losses differently - but each one wanted to know that I cared.

3 Things to Remember When a Friend Loses a Baby.png

 Here are 3 Things To Remember When Your Friend Loses A Baby:


1. A baby is a baby.

      Some of my friends have lost their babies days after founding out they were pregnant. Some of my friends have lost their babies in their third trimester. Although these experiences are different, a baby is a baby. They have lost a baby no matter how far along they are in their pregnancy. 

    Once a  friend confided in me, "Sometimes I feel ashamed that I am so sad. I know was only 5 weeks pregnant, but I already had names picked out. I had dreams and hopes for my baby."

    A baby is a baby.

I stopped saying, "I am sorry you miscarried." I have started saying, "I am sorry that you lost your sweet baby." Sometimes I will ask my friend, "What is your baby's name?" If they have a name picked out, I will use the name as I refer to the loss. It is important to affirm the validity of our friend's grief - they are, in fact, actually grieving the loss of baby


2. a new Pregnancy doesn't mean the grief is over.

    I have made the mistake of assuming that my friend is "done grieving" the loss of her baby because she gets pregnant again. This is not true and I have found that some of my friends have struggled with real anxiety during their subsequent pregnancy after the loss of a baby. They are fearful that they will loss this baby as well. Some of my friends have felt like they couldn't celebrate their new pregnancy in fear of something bad happening or because they feel it will take away from mourning the baby who had died. 

     My mother who had two children after the loss of her son (my brother), Jonah, still tears up when she talks about holding his lifeless body in her arms. This was 23 years ago. It is important to not assume that "everything is okay now" because our friend is pregnant again. She still needs the support of a friend who will walk closely with her as she carries this new baby.


3.  an Invitation is more  helpful than information.

      When tragedy happens, it is our natural inclination to want to offer an explanation of "why it happened" and "how it can be prevented in the future". I have found that this not helpful. My friends who have lost their babies have told me how they have had to wade through unexplained guilt and inevitable fears for the future as they grieve. Information from a "well meaning" friend can feel too heavy of burden to carry on top of everything else. 

    Instead of offering our friends "information", we have an opportunity to offer our grieving friends an invitation to

  • talk openly about the loss in the presence of a safe and listening friend
  • go out for coffee or to the movies to be distracted for a brief time
  • ask for a set of helpful hands to tend to house chores and other day-to-day tasks (such as: food shopping, yard work, child care, etc.)
  • be encouraged each day for set a time with a regular text or phone call ("I'm thinking of you. How are you feeling today?")
  • remember together the baby that was hoped for with cards and gifts with the baby's name on it
  • and much more.


       When a friend loses a baby, she needs a friend.

And you are it. You are the friend. You don't have to have a counseling degree or even have experienced this particular kind of loss to show her that you care. All you need to do is take a step towards her and let her know that she is not alone.


   For more on what to do when your friend loses a baby, listen to Episode 27 of Friending Podcast.


Until next time,




 Noelle is a  speaker, podcaster, and self proclaimed: Friendtor. (Friend +Mentor = Friendtor).  She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

      Noelle is passionate about helping women find grow in their calling and encourage one another to do the same through the art of friendship.   For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.