Monday, January 31, 2011

"The Indianapolis area is expecting an atomic bomb of winter weather." -The Weather Channel


On my way home from school Sar said, "We need to go to Meijer and stock up." We didn't waste anytime and Sar jumped in my car right from the workout center before even going home.


The parking lot was a zoo.

This is one of the last three loaves of bread in the entire world. Maybe. I'm not really sure why people decide they want to eat an enormous amount of bread when they're snowed in but they sure are ready for french toast and pb & j.

These are the essentials for survival when you may be snowed in for days. Milk, yogurt, chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, brownie and muffin mix, pizza, two donuts, and eggs. Like I said, the essentials.

Sar wanted bananas. But they're all gone. Every last little bit of potassium has been bought in preparation for the Snowmageddon. All of the chickens and strawberries were also sold out.

The entire population of Indianapolis, maybe Indiana, was in line to make sure they were prepared. Some people's choice of survival gear was questionable. One man out braving the ice filled his cart with cat litter, a potted plant, baby food, a pillow and three boxes of assorted soda.

Stay inside. Put on your sweatpants. Charge your computer before the power goes out. Fill your bathtub with water. Make baked goods now. Stay tuned for cancellations and weather alerts.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hockey pucks, raw fish, and Maggie's laugh

Most girls I know play soccer or lacrosse or cross-country or swimming. But I know four girls who play hockey. They are the brave ones. Spending hours on the ice, these girls could skate circles around figure skaters. They slam into walls and their opponents. 

This morning I got to watch two of them play in a tournament downtown. I walked into the cold rink and before I even sat down on the bleachers Rachel spotted me and waved as she skated past. Emily saw Rach's wave, eyed me on the other side of the room and waved too. I got to sit with their parents in the stands as I watched their match.

Rachel is an 8th grader in the FBC and visits my room everyday after lunch. She is kind, persistent and loud. When she gets really hyper, particularly on Thursday afternoon between the hours of 3 and 4, her eyes get really wide, her voice raises an octave, she shakes and sitting still isn't an option. She is in love with hockey player Sydney Crosby and talks about him weekly. 

I've know Emily for years because her older sister Alex was my camper in 2007 and 2008. I finally had Emily as a camper in the Longhouse this past summer. I've always known she played hockey but hadn't had the opportunity to see her play. She is really good. That girl out skated everyone on the rink this morning. I don't really know any hockey lingo but... she was great.

I scooted out of the hockey game to get to church. I got there right as it was starting, which is normal, but there were no seats in the sanctuary. My friends Rach, Coll, Sar, Kelsey & Maddie, and the Houghton fam all got there at the same time too and we had to go sit in the basement to watch the service on TVs down there. The basement was even packed and there were barely any seats left. 

Lately I've been in a lot of conversations where I feel like I don't have the words to say. Life is hard. People are going through pain. Loneliness, hurt, brokenness, emptiness, and hopelessness seem to be all around. It breaks my heart. I love these friends so much and somedays, a lot of days, I just don't know how to help. 

The first song we sang today connected to all of that right away. This is what we, what I, need:

Broken I run to you for your arms are open wide
I am weary but I know your touch restores my life
So I wait for you
I'm falling on my knees
Offering all of me
Jesus you're all this heart is living for

And Jeff prayed, "All of us at some level, at some degree of desperation came here because we need you. You are here. You know our stories. Our hearts. You know what needs to be given and what needs to be taken away. To those that need hope, give it abundantly. To those that need faith, revive it."

And I know that God is here with us wherever we are, not just sitting in church on Sunday. But wherever I am and wherever you are, God knows you and he knows your heart and he loves you. And so somedays I don't what to say or what to do and that's fine. Because God knows us fully everyday and knows and understands what we need.

Sar and I jetted back to Carmel to meet up with Wyld Life leaders to film a "I would do anything to get you to go to Wyld Life camp" video to show at clubs this semester.

This fish was swallowed not once, but twice today.

He spring-boarded himself out of Alex's throat in an escape effort only to land on the floor and be put back in the cup. Poor, brave, little fish. The second time he didn't have a chance.

Clay kissed this fish.

Then Jenna got hit in the face with it. Quinn got a swirly and ate a flaming marshmallow. Hank ripped hair off of his leg with duct tape. This is dedication.

Low of the day: I had to go do homework next. I also have developed a bit of a cold so I can't really breathe and my nose has been whistling for four straight days. It's annoying.

Tonight I got to eat pizza with YL friends, talk with Beef about the greatness of camp, and Skype with Maggie about hair, friends, blogs, plans, camp, school, parents and the rest of life. Great ending to the day.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's Saturday

Slept in till 10:30.
It's Saturday.

Should we go in to eat lunch at Chik-fil-a?
It's Saturday, we should go in.

There's no free tables. There's so much traffic.
It's Saturday. People are busy.

Should we try the samples in Meijer?
It's Saturday.

Should we go to Orange Leaf in the middle of the day?
It's yes.

These clementine boxes are boring and blank. And that's not okay because it's Saturday.

Now they're bright.
It's Saturday.

Jenna moved in!
It must be Saturday.

Pesto for dinner? Cookie dough? Collaging, blogging, just dance 2-ing, cleaning, and laughing?
It's Saturday.

Friday, January 28, 2011

"Today is Friday. That just makes me feel so happy." -Emily, 7th grader

One of the things I really miss about Hope College is going on coffee dates at JP's. Several times a week I'd walk the three blocks to the familiar booths to sit with Lani, run into Casey, meet with a YL girl, or meet with my special SIB of the week. 

I was so happy to go on a coffee date with Bridget after school today.

Bridget and I met at a chapel years ago and she was a CILT this past summer. I love talks with her. She has such a good head on her shoulders. Even if life isn't perfect Bridget can still stay positive. She looks for the best in people. She dreams big dreams, works hard, seeks in her faith, loves her family, and makes me laugh. 

My friend Colleen is leaving for South Africa next week. She is taking the semester to go live with a family and work in an orphanage. I wish that I could see her in action loving those sweet children. Today I got to hang out with her and my great friend Rachel. They are quite the pair.

Par-tayyyy at the One-twen-tayyyy. Since I started Carmel Young Life I've spent many a day at the 120 for meetings, dinners, parties, and hang-outs. Tomorrow Jenna and Ellen are moving out of the 120; Jenna to our apartment and Ellen to New Zealand. Obviously we needed to have a good-bye house party. 

When I first moved here I thought it was funny that all of these Young Life people only hung out with Young Life people. But now it makes sense. They span different YL schools, they're the husbands/wives/daughters of YL staff, they're YL alumni but they're all connected in this great larger family.

Tonight was one of those chocolate-fountain-worthy, everyone-wanting-to-hold-Raelyn, Just-Dance-2-team-medley, David-accent-story-laughing, circles-of-friends-talking, stay-up-way-too-late kind of nights.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mission accomplished

Attitude is a powerful thing. Deciding to live my life well yesterday changed my perception of my conversations and activities today. I stopped being tired and was intentional about carrying out the plan to get busy living.

I explained the peacock bracelet 15 times and scuttled around to beckonings of, "Miss Wright! Miss Wright!" Nat and I climbed the snow pile and screamed, "LET THE WILD RUMPUS BEGIN!" just like "Where the Wild Things Are." Sar and I listened to "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and I might have danced a little bit. Wyld Life kids laughed while playing Savage. I got to talk with Susan and Kata and Molly and hear about the craziness of their lives right now.

Tomorrow there will be more life to live well.

"I'm so pumped for life right now, a sweater wearing life." -Arielle

I'm tired.

Annie told me last night that she is just tired, tired, tired. She feels like she finishes something and ten more things pile up.

I wait in the hallway in the morning, sitting on my stool and say, "Hi, how are you?" Each kid wearily walks by under the weight of their backpack and says, "Hi... I'm tired."

When I wake up in the morning I'm tempted to hit the snooze button and snuggle back under my quilts.

I attach a tall mug of coffee to my hand for the 12 ounces of caffeine. I'm tired. It's easy to get stuck in a rut of being tired.

In the summer I'm exhausted. It feels like there is barely time to sleep between the days and I fall asleep as soon as I lay down during rest hour.

But at camp I don't care that I'm tired because I'm too excited about living. I soak in the way the light glitters between the leaves in the Green Cathedral. I sit in circles on wooden porches under the big dipper talking about the honest, vulnerable truth. We hike up the lake hill in the middle of August sweating beneath our backpacks and talk in Southern accents.

We hold hands with eight-year-olds and make a family with our cabin and rope swing into the cold lake and eat sweet ice-cream cookie sandwiches and trade friendship bracelets and play four-square and cartwheel in main field and write love tanks and paint masks and take bunnies on walks and cheer on stage at campfire and climb wooden mountains and sleep on tennis courts. We live life and don't think about being tired.

I need that right now.

Today I want to live life. I can spend my days and weeks living in wait to sleep in on Saturday or I can choose to live today well. I want to smile at each kid in the hall and write moon poems with my students and teach the peacock bracelet a dozen times and sing along in FBC and climb a snow mountain with Nat and call friends that I miss and listen to songs on repeat with Sar and laugh with kids at Wyld Life and run inside a refrigerator box and listen to a HS kid share their story and go to sleep knowing that today I lived well.

I want to be so excited about living that I don't have time to be tired.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Four bits of inspiration

This advice (Thank you Annie):
Sometimes we have to just be. Not be anything, just be.

This art (Thank you MaryClaire):
Just Breathe You should probably do what it says. Maybe make a list.

This quote (Thank you Sarah Mooney):
You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink. -G.K. Chesterton

This story on this new blog:
Nella Cordelia: A Birth Story

Monday, January 24, 2011

It was a people kind of day

I love days like today where my schedule is all about people and conversation. 

My students were awesome today and we had fun writing and talking together. The funniest part might have been when Rachel told me she had to go give a presentation about George Washington with a sock puppet.

I had coffee with my friend Katie today whom I haven't seen since summer. This girl is incredible. This summer all the counselors would talk about what a great "prayer" Katie was because of a night she prayed for their group to find joy. I think that the reason we felt like Katie was so connected to God was because she is so connected to God. Today she was telling me about how she leads junior high youth group, is mentoring a friend who is converting to Catholicism, has changed friends even though it was difficult, and loves to have conversations about her faith. Katie is living out what she believes.

We had wyld life leadership tonight followed by Campaigners. I like after meal questions, finding out about people getting hired at camp, singing the worship song off key, David reading the story of the prodigal son by flashlight, talking about looking for God, and spending time with these friends.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

We sang.

Tonight Young Life hosted a night of worship. Kids from all area schools, Young Life leaders, families, and committee members all gathered and filled up the youth room at First Baptist Church. The room has a semi-circle of big carpeted stairs that work like stadium seating. Most club rooms at Young Life camps are built like this and I love that you can see everyone at once, your attention is still on the front, and it's naturally more relaxed.

Jake Ousley played his guitar and we sang. Simple. We sang songs, leaders read Scripture, and we prayed. Something feels right in my soul when we just sing. It takes me back to singing in the Green Cathedral, in the circle at Mars Hill, standing between wooden pews in Dimnent, in the Brown's basement. When we sing together we are reminded of what we believe. I can connect with God in a real, tangible way.

I felt at home singing these familiar songs surrounded by friends and strangers. Jake had everyone stand and hold hands as we sang "Lay My Burdens Down" near the end. As soon as the song finished everyone dropped hands but one line of four girls and their leader kept holding hands till the end. I loved watching the unity and love between them.

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.
Shine your light and let the whole world see,
We're singing for the glory of the risen King

In my heart, in my soul
I give you control
Consume me from the inside out
Let justice and praise
Become my embrace
To love you from the inside out
Everlasting, your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart is to bring you praise
From the inside out
Lord my soul cries out

Club Sandwich Club. Flannel Club. Pet Club. James Bond Club. Reading Club. Club Soda Club. Debate Club Club.

I love watching people play Just Dance 2.

We made a bracket of all the leaders- Sar and Avery battled in the Final and Sar was victorious.

Then we played boys vs. girls on the medleys and switched team members with each new song. The girls might have won 5 out of 5 rounds, but the sensor was probably tilted. 

A trip to Huddles, a dance party, and club brainstorming were all pretty great. In the morning we headed to Common Ground, had an early lunch at Broad Ripple Bagel, and then back to the boys house to plan club for this semester.

These are such creative and talented people. They have great ideas and they are dedicated to loving Christ and loving kids. I'm lucky to work and live life with them.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Oprah magazine helped me find this website. They post creative activities and then people uploaded their responses. I love 63. Make An Encouraging Banner

Now I want to go make one...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Main Characters

I was telling my friend Sarah what I was going to do tonight, "Well I'm going to dinner with Colleen, one of my CILT girls, and her sister before we go watch Molly, another CILT, in her play. Then I'm going to watch one of my FBC girls play Lacrosse and sit with another FBC girl... Not a typical itinerary for a 23-year-old on a Friday night but I'm really excited about it."

I have this thing about showing up. I really think you should do it. I talk with my friend Taylor all the time about how I love that she is dependable. Giving someone your time is one of the greatest gifts. Tonight I got to live out what I believe.

This is Kelly... I mean Molly.

Tonight she played Kelly in the Junior Spec play Barbie World. She was hilarious. I loved her costume and her pigtails and the way she skipped all over the stage and how she basically got to be peppy, excited Molly on stage.

Colleen, Kelsey, and I were part of her cheering section. We were so proud to know her.

Today at school Natalie told me she was going to watch Sabrina play lacrosse tonight. We figured out that her game was at this indoor facility less than a minute from my apartment so I told her I would come sit with her and keep her company. 

I got there and recognized Sabrina on the field right away with her ponytail swinging. I used to go to the same place last year to watch my Young Life girls' soccer games and it was so fun to see Saba in action. I recognized a couple other students playing but there was no Natalie. Weird.

As soon as the game was over Sabrina AND Natalie came sprinting around to where all the parents were waiting. They yelled, "MISS WRIGHT! MISS WRIGHT! NATALIE WAS PLAYING GOALIE FOR THE OTHER TEAM! SHE PLAYED IN THE GAME!" 

The other team was missing some players so they subbed Natalie in. I didn't recognize her because she was covered in all the padding and had on a huge helmet. I should have recognized her purple corduroy Toms. Natalie had never played lacrosse before and was flipping out that she had just spent a whole game in the goal. 

They're such rockstars.

All of these girls have become some of the main characters of my life. Natalie is one of the very first people I see every morning when she comes to visit my classroom. I know I'll see Saba after sixth hour everyday when she passes by and yells, "Hi Miss Wright!" They both shine joy in our school.

I love that I get to see Molly and Colleen in real life. Colleen loves camp and friendship bracelets. I love that she's so excited for the Jake Ousley songfest on Sunday and already planning camp gatherings for the summer. Molly is precious. Really.  She wants to live life as the best version of herself and wants to surround herself with great people. I love how she feels every emotion to 56th degree. I really hope she wins best actress after the final Spec performance tomorrow night. She totes deserves it.

Does My Head Look Big In This?

I'm in a literature circle for one of my new classes and just finished this young adult novel. Amal, a high school Junior, has been inspired by Rachel on Friends to become a full-timer. She will now wear the Muslim hijab head scarf full time. This story centers around Amal but also shares the stories of her best friends and family. I loved reading about the different cultures of each girl, the pressure of their families, the challenges at school, and the journey they each took during this year.

"I can't help missing my old school....I loved the intimacy of it, that you knew everybody's name and history. That you knew the teachers felt it was more than a job. That you could feel they lived and breathed the idea of making the school as big as their dreams. That it didn't matter that you didn't have gyms and courtyards and pools and horseback riding and tennis courts. All that mattered was how hard you studied or slacked off, and your friendships. And it was no big deal if you didn't have a clue who you were because nobody was asking for an explanation anyway." p34

" 'I'm sixty-seven year old. And, dear, in my sixty-seven years I've never let politics tell me how to treat people.'
We sit in silence and she soon begins gathering her things to get ready for her stop. I let her out and as she steps off the bus she looks back at me and smiles. I wave good-bye.
Sometimes it's easy to lose faith in people. And sometimes one act of kindness is all it takes to give you hope again." p161

"She bursts into laughter. She doesn't stop; her chest heaves up and down and she leans over, wiping her eyes and shaking as her lungs gasp for air. I see her and I crack up, and we're sitting on the porch, an old woman with her tasseled shawl, me with my hijab, and we're finding out that we're connected enough to affect each other. And it makes us laugh harder to realized we'd ever doubted it." p 272

"All this time I've been walking around thinking I've become pious because I've made the difficult decision to wear the hijab. I've been assuming that now that I'm wearing it full-time, I've earned all my brownie points. But what's the good of being true to your religion on the outside, if you don't change what's on the inside, where it really counts? I've been kidding myself. Putting on the hijab isn't the end of the journey. It's just the beginning of it." p333

"But that's what Leila's always been about. Faith. Faith that she'll do something in her life. Faith in people. Faith in God. Faith that she knows who she is and what she wants and what her rights are. Things you take for granted and don't think about." p347

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I was telling my friend Colleen yesterday that I feel like I don't talk to people on the phone anymore partly because they know what's going on with my life if they read this so they don't check-in as frequently. I also don't talk to people on the phone anymore because I decided last semester that I didn't really like to anymore... Needless to say there are a lot of you that I really miss hearing your voice and knowing what is going on in your life on a regular basis. I want to work on that.

I've decided that instead of complaining about the time I have to drive down to IUPUI and back twice a week I'm going to use it for phone calls. If I can't hang out with people in real life on those days then I'm going to connect with people that are far away.

I think I like the phone again. Taylor is super pumped about YWAM. Michelle is loving living in the middle four. Allison had boxes of jell-o thrown at her in a biology lab today. Arielle rides the subway, takes two girls to school, and works in NYC with two of her best friends right now. Casey had a whirlwind of a Christmas break and is back starting a crazy season at Hope. Colleen can get me excited about anything and I love hearing her talk about her students and their poetry.

Conversation in real life is great too. Today I braved the snowy streets down to the Houghton's house for dinner. I got to hang out next door with Linda and Nick first- Thomas the Tank on TV and a box full of plastic dogs are a combination for excitement. Then we shared dinner together around the dining room table--I don't get to sit around dining room tables very often. Annie, MaryEllen, Sarah, Kaylee, Avery, Kylie, Kelsey and I ate chunks of french bread dipped in bowls of Panera soup and just talked. Kylie occasionally screamed in the background. It was perfect. We got to sit around to tell stories and take turns holding baby Raelyn. I love nights like this when we have time to just be with each other.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Welcome to Junior High

I was filling up my water bottle before first period when about 10 of my 8th grade FBC girls walk into the bathroom. Mary is wearing a bump-it today. We all examined her hair and they talked about the process of teasing your hair to acquire a proper bump.

I passed Natalie in the hall on the way back to class. She's wearing glasses today. Her eyes are fine. She asked her mom for fake glasses for Christmas. If anyone asks why the glasses are clear (as in not prescription) she's going to say, "Oh, I have an astigmatism, my eyes are messed up," because people in Junior High don't know what an astigmatism is.

24 students are sitting in their desks when I walk back into my room. Every single one is silent. No one told them to be quiet or sit down. They just do. Every day. It's really weird.

Today before our 10 minute write I say, "You guys! I just found out that in 10 minutes the school is releasing dangerous gas into the classrooms to wipe our memories. We have to write down everything that we want to remember before that happens. Make a list of everything important that you don't want to forget! Ready, set write." 5th period thinks that I'm serious and gets really nervous.

Keep in mind the things they write down are the ONLY things they will remember for forever. "My shoe size is 9. I love my mom. Black Ops. I like chicken. You need to remember to brush your dog's teeth. I skipped kindergarten. You want to be a teacher when you grow up. I have two best friends. Sharks are going to rule the world. I hate Justin Bieber. I love Justin Bieber. How to blink. How to read and write. My favorite color is orange. I am a Christian. I eat clementines 6 at a time. Only enter the men's bathroom. My first dance."

One of my 2nd period girls is best friends with one of my 3rd period girls. Everyday they hug each other during the transition. Today 2nd period girl kissed 3rd period girl on the cheek who then screamed, "EWWW! PDA sick."

We were talking about clothes after Maggie was very curious about the color of my corduroys. They're purple. Rachel told us that she writes down what she is going to wear for the week on a post-it note and then sticks it to her wall. She has rows of these notes so that she won't repeat outfits too close to each other.

One of my chalkboards is the "refrigerator door" and I load it up with pictures of my classes and the FBC or cards or quotes that kids write. Just saw one of my kids put a piece of paper that says, "Like" on one of the pictures she's in.

"Miss Wright, Natalie colored my hair red on Saturday and it took 3 hours and 3 markers."

Monday, January 17, 2011

7 hours in the car

It was kind of like a family road trip. Kyle and Jenna were the dad and mom in front. Sar and I were the normal kids in the middle. David had to sit in the back because we made him.

Diet Coke toast at 10:15, reading, napping, talking, questions about aliens, bigfoot, trees, what you would do to prove you love your spouse, lists of conversation topics, windshield wipers working, Harbor Master, reception details, bridesmaid lists, boy discussion of politics, Jimmy Johns and an ice-cream sandwich, carsickness, David's feet, Jenna loving the mirror, mushy clementines, and finally getting home.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

David, who are you?

First thing this morning we met with a small group of adults in the Bunkhouse for bible study. Tim went through some of the verses about love in 1 Corinthians 13 to add his thoughts and ask our ideas. I've heard this love chapter man times but heard some new things and jotted them down (hence they may not really connect).

Love means what matters to you matters to me. If we really think before we speak we should say only what is good and will bring out the best in people. We're told to not keep a record of wrongs- maybe we should keep a record of good that other people. What if we constantly reminded and brought up great things that people have done and said in the past? Forgiveness is an act in time but restoration is a process. There can be forgiveness and consequences.

I sat next to Marlin and had to laugh whenever Jim or John McKenzie spoke because she would just mumble under her breath, "Wisdom. Wisdom just pours forth. Wisdom. Little jewels and I pick 'em up."

Almost everyone headed back to Caberfe for another day on the mountain but some of us stuck around camp. I went to lunch with Sarah and Jon at the Coffee Cup, a Lake City hub of activity.

This lunch is now an official tradition of a grilled cinnamon, fried food and great conversation. Today I loved to opportunity to sit and talk with Sarah and Jon about leading others. They are without question two of the best leaders I've ever worked with. I loved the opportunity to just sit with them to ask questions, hear stories, share experience and think through how we work with different people. 

I hate going outside when we're up at Timberwolf because it's so dang cold but it's a great trade-off that we get to look out and see all of this.

As everyone was coming back from this hill we hung out in the kitchen boiling water for hot chocolate and backing chocolate chip cookies. David was learning to be domestic and Sar was giving him directions and Joel was laughing at all of us.

Dinner was easily one of the funniest parts of the day. Just five of us sat at out table but we were laughing about meal questions and David being David. I was laughing so hard that I couldn't make any noise and then we got our cake and David ate mine.

We got to have club in the actual club room tonight.

Hanski and Franksi were back to respect the mountain...

...and help us learn some skills to help with our skiing.

And I just really like whenever I get to hang out with Taylor and Sarah.