Saturday, December 31, 2011

A year of celebration, joy, and the very best friends

Some of my favorite things about the year 2011. (I couldn't stop at just 10)

In an unprecedented move, the CILTs of 2011 had a Spring reunion. Back in the River Village I loved every second of the weekend and was floored as I saw how God was working in these kids' lives.

Maggie, Alli, Katie, MaryClaire, Avery, Emily, Annie

I get to lead Young Life with some of my very best friends and most inspiring people I've ever met. These people love Jesus and love High School kids and are living out that love in real and tangible ways.

Tyler Bender, Tom, Jake, MaryEllen, Sarah, Sarah, Mark, David

One of my favorite things about living in Indy is getting to see CILT girls and be a part of their life in the "real world" outside of camp.

Bridget, Molly, Megan, Kaitlyn, Avery, Emily, Emily, Carly

One of the best things about being a returning counselor is watching my old campers transition into being a counselor.

This summer one of my dreams came true as I got to be both a CILT and resident cabin counselor alongside Arielle, my fellow camp kid and friend for our entire lives.

Being a CILT counselor was my favorite part of the year. Spending six weeks with 124 High School kids is certainly living the dream.

 Session 3 CILT girls

I've got so lucky to be part of this counseling team this summer. I laughed with, learned so much, was supported and encouraged by and grew close to Evan, Arielle, Mel and Kraft everyday.

Fratopher, Arielle Face, Six Eyes, Bike Chain

Wolf shirts were the trend no one could have ever predicted and will forever remind me of this past summer.

Meg, Molly, Sarah, Miriam, Arielle, Maggie, Annie, Mel

Honest friendships and intentional conversations are two of the most special things about Camp Tecumseh. Erin and Annie are experts in those areas and two girls that have taught me so much about being a counselor and appreciating the people around you.

 Although I spend most of my time with CILT girls, so many younger kids that I've known for multiple summers have a huge part of my heart. Getting to hang out with them is always a high of the day.

Kierstin, Sarah, Caroline, Alex, Abby, Olivia

When a new session begins we get a list of names of all the kids that we'll be living with for the next two weeks. I love the transformation that happens over that short amount of time that allows those kids to become the main characters of our summer. Friendships with these campers are why I'm a counselor.

Maddie, Emma, Erin, Kathleen, Sarah

At this point in my counseling career I've had the honor to have been a counselor to so many of my fellow counselors. One of my favorite nights off of the summer we had a devotion together because we missed sitting in a circle together at the end of each day.

Michelle, Maggie, Molly, Sarah, Colleen, Chrissy, Annie, Mary, Annie, Sarah

One of the best parts of switching to resident camp this summer was getting to teach hip-hop and country-line dancing clinic everyday. I still miss dancing in the party room every morning. Performing on Friday nights at Trading Post and Closing Campfire was incredible because of the looks of pride and joy on our kids' faces.

Carolyn, Krafty and the hip-hop kids week 9

Getting to be every day kind of friends with camp counselors is one of the most special parts of the summer. They see us at our best and worst. From sleepy eyes at flagpole every morning to staying up late talking on picnic tables, camp friends are there for every moment. This summer I'll remember camp friends helping me move, attempting to go to a TSwift concert, watching fireworks from inside my car, sharing our highs of the day, and sleepovers on the weekends.

Maggie, Annie, Sarah

Meg, Arielle, Emily, Mary, Sarah, Rachel, Chrissy, Carolyn, Paige, Colleen, Lesem, Grace

Grace, Lesem, Chrissy, Mary, Sarah, Emily, Colleen, Rachel

Adventures like the Leader Summit in Kentucky this Fall are the best because of the people I get to share them with. Our team closed out the dance floor this night and we impressed ourselves with amount of sweat we each produced.

Never before have I lived so close to camp friends. Being real life friends and living only a couple minutes away is a highlight of the year.

Emily, Eric, William, Sara, Sarah, Rachel, Dani

Emel and Colleen, my roommates have been two of my favorite parts of this semester. I love that they're either already talking or singing when I wake up in the morning and that they make me laugh every night.

Emel, Colleen and her Huddles dance

It's so fun to have a whole new generation of camp girls to get to know better this year in Indy--and there are SO many of them. I'm glad they'll still be here for the next year and a half.

Kathleen, Sarah, Maddie, Erin

Baby Lincoln Wright DeKoster was born September 30th. Our family is in love as Katie and Nick have become parents, Mom and Dad have transitioned to being grandparents and I'm so excited about being Auntie Sarah.

These Junior and Senior girls have become the reason I love Monday nights. Conversations in our Campaigners circle up in the Miller's guest room are some of my favorite talks every week. I'm so thankful I get to show up in their lives during the week.

Sarah and MaryEllen are two women that I deeply admire and respect. It really stinks that Sarah moved to Chicago so we can't see her everyday but I love when we make visits happen and we're all reunited for awhile. Friends like this pair that make me laugh till tears, understand me so deeply, pray for my life and care about what I care about are hard to find.

MaryEllen, Sarah, Sarah

The St. Louis City Museum was another favorite Young Life adventure of the Fall and I can't wait to go back and climb again. Kraft and I have been friends since we were sixteen but this semester was the first time we've lived in the same place. He joined the Carmel Young Life team and I loved getting to see him so often and be real life friends. We'll miss him now as he's leaving to be an Air Force Officer.

These girls bring a smile to my face every single time I interact with them. Saying hi in the hallway, singing during FBC, talking on the way to lunch, remembering when they were students in my laugh, running into them at a concert, having the HS girls run into FBC screaming, or talking during SLT these girls have changed my life and my heart as a teacher.

The 4th Annual CILT Reunion was a huge success with over 100 CILTs representing the 3 sessions from 2011. It was a grand homecoming of counselors and campers that I just didn't want to end.

Krafty, Mel, Sarah, Maddie, Arielle, Erin, Evan

Friday, December 30, 2011

"Oh my gosh your voice is deeper, you're growing up."

Isn't interesting to think that you never really stop getting to know someone? You can be friends with someone for years but you can never learn everything about them. Both of you change over time as well and you get to watch that person evolve into whoever they are becoming.

Tonight I got to have dinner with these CILTs of session 2 2010. Sarah Zinn is in town visiting from London and her visit required a reunion--even Craig T Douglas showed up in his pajamas. I met Rae, Craig, Megan, Sarah, Kaitlyn and Niki over a year and a half ago but I keep liking them more with time.

It's so neat to get to watch their friendships with each other thrive, hear them talk about where they'll go to school next year, listen to their stories of Senior year and how it's totally opposite or exactly what they expected. It was a blessing to get to sit and talk with these six tonight.

I've been friends with these girls for three years now because of Young Life and I'm so thankful that on breaks like this that we make time for each other. Taylor and Allison are girls of adventure--they want to try ever flavor of frozen yogurt, play "Wavin' Flag" loud in the car and beat on imaginary drums as they sing, ask each other real questions because they believe that deep conversations can happen whenever and where ever.

Tonight Susan, Allison, Taylor and I laughed at YouTube videos and funny stories, played Nerts, ate too much popcorn, wrote our "Top 10 Things I Realized In 2011" lists and talked about all the things we want the others to know about family, school, friends, fears, boyfriends, and hopes for next semester. Even though I've known them for years, tonight I got to know these girls better.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Wrights

This has been such an awesome week with my family. I love when we all get to hang out for a long time just doing all of our favorite times. It doesn't happen as often as we would like but when it does we're experts at having fun together.

This afternoon we got to give Linc a tour of River Village. He has already called dibs on a bunk in Choctaw with me for the summer and practiced for his debut performance at closing campfire.

Linc really liked climbing up on the giant chair in the Pine Forest and Katie liked trying to smile like me. You can't tell because he's turned around, but Linc was smiling with his mouth open in the far right picture too.

I'm so lucky to be part of this family; parents that love us so much, a sister that cares so much about me, a brother-in-law that I can't imagine not having, and a little nephew that I am pretty much obsessed with. It doesn't get any better than this.

Kisses From Katie

Two days ago as Arielle and I were wandering the aisles of Barnes and Noble, I spotted this book on a shelf. I recognized it from the blog Kisses From Katie that Sarah Briggs had shown me months ago. I picked it up and couldn't put it down. I had to get it. Two days later I've finished reading the story of Katie and her girls.

At the age of 16 Katie felt that God was calling her to do something big with her life. She first visited Uganda as a Senior for three weeks and then returned after graduation. With a few visits back to the States, Uganda has become her permanent home.

God has taken care of her and opened doors for her life as she went from teaching kindergarten to over 100 children, to starting a non-profit organization Amazima that sponsors children's school fees and feeds them daily, to moving her into a large house that she didn't know what to do with until God filled it with people; children and adults that come to her for medicine and food, hundreds of the kids that are sponsored through Amazima that come to eat and worship together, and her fourteen adopted daughters.

Yes. She is 21 years old and a mother to 14 girls. From different families and tribes they were chosen by Christ to become part of Katie's family.

I know. This sounds insane. But you've got to read this book. I love that this story is real. What Christ is doing for these people in villages and slums in Uganda is real. Katie doing all of this and saying "yes" to Christ because she knows that his unfailing love and grace and truth is real. You won't be able to put this book down. It will change your heart and the way you think about serving Christ where you are.

 "July 20, 2010 I am twenty years old and have fourteen children and four hundred more who all depend on me for their care. Who are all learning to love Jesus and be responsible adults and looking up to me. The reality of it all can be a bit overwhelming at times. However, it is always pure joy. There is a common misconception that I am courageous. I will be the first to tell you that this is actually not true. Most of the time, I am not brave. I just believe in a God who will use me even though I am not. Most mornings, before I even get out of bed, I am overwhelmed with His goodness, with His plan for my life; I stand in awe of the fact that he could entrust me with so much...

I don't always know where this life is going. I can't see the end of the road, but here is the great part. Courage is not about knowing the path. It is about taking the first step. It is about Peter getting out of the boat, stepping out onto the water with complete faith that Jesus will not let him drown." -Katie Davis

This is a book that you need to read.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top 10 Favorite Parts of Today

1. Waking up to Lincoln and my Mom telling me that they had just made cinnamon rolls.

2. Singing Linc to sleep in the car with CILT cheers and graduation songs while he held onto my fingers.

3. Reading more of "Kisses From Katie"that I got yesterday when Arielle and I were searching Barnes and Noble. It's so good. More to come on this.

4. Walking into Paradise for lunch and spotting a little girl named Mia that I babysit sitting on the floor. She put her arms right up for me to carry her. Her mom Lindsey is on the Board at camp and they along with Tyler sat with us for a long time at the end of lunch. I got to play with Mia and Tyler; two of the greatest little kids I know.

5. Texting is just a really great invention. I love that I got to laugh with Sar today, hear about Annie's trip, know that Maggie had fun taking pictures, make plans with Megan and talk to Chrissy before she leaves for Africa tomorrow night.

6. Running into Kellie Coval and then Molly Henry and her mom Mindy in Paradise. Molly shrieked when she realized it was me that had snuck up behind her. I love surprises like that.

7. Seeing Molly and Mindy again in J. Crew, getting to talk to Keefer in Urban and then having Megan Williamson and Kaitlyn Fosnaugh walk towards me with giant smiles on their faces. Running into camp friends is the best.

8. Not only did Katie, Nick and Linc get to see my apartment but they also got to have Huddles for the first time ever. It's fun showing them all my favorite spots in Indy.

9. When we got home Katie put a frozen pizza in the oven and I got out the Blink cards so we could play a few more games. I love how even as we grow up some things never change.

10. Reading "Wild About Books" with Katie in a British accent to Lincoln. It's so fun having a baby to play with and a sister to laugh with.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Break is the best invention.

This is a fun game to play with Linc-- Raise your hands if you look really cool in a bow tie... Yep. Raise your hands if you love your Aunt Sarah... Good. Raise your hands if your best friend is blue dog... Uh-huh. Raise your hands if you're a cute baby... Score.

This afternoon was a grand reunion. Arielle, Mel and I got to have lunch with Whitney, Abby, Rachel, Grace, Cailey and Karisa. West Lafayette dwellers, these CILT girls of sessions 1 and 2 are so much fun. They were waiting at the door when we arrived and attacked us with hugs.

It was my favorite type of lunch with friends. The kind where you sit for hours telling old stories and asking questions and sharing life with each other as you keep getting refills and having to take bathroom breaks but you come back and the conversation keeps going. Today was the kind of day where none of us really had to go anywhere else. Being together was exactly what we wanted to do.

Visits with CILT girls like this are sparse during the year but they are without a doubt some of my very favorite moments. The time we shared in the Longhouse this summer was the foundation of a strong friendship that is nowhere close to ending. We all wish we could show up in each others lives like this more often. Wouldn't that be the best if we all lived in the same place or if teleportation could just be invented already?

But the things that made us grow so close at camp--sincerity, intentional conversations, character, trust, faith, love for adventure and the way we value people-- will keep us close all year long. These girls, Whitney, Cailey, Grace, Rachel, Abby and Karisa, will continue to grow into the joyful, courageous, loyal, dedicated young women God created them to be.

Days like today are reminders that getting to work with teenage girls whether it's at school, in Young Life or at Tecumseh, is one of my favorite things and biggest blessings. There is nothing else I'd rather spend my days doing.

Other highlights of the night included being real life friends with Arielle, dinner with the family, a visit to the Meyaard house and running around with Bryn, Shay, and Liam, playing fishbowl back at home and laughing together, and watching Harry Potter 7 with Nick.