Monday, April 30, 2012

She's fist-pumping because she feels so powerful

Today I'm Thankful For

1. Block scheduling because of ISTEP. Did you know changing up your normal routine is good for your health? It really was fun to have my kids in class extra long. I miss the rest of them and am excited to see them tomorrow.

2. We wrote moon poems and post secrets, basically my room is creativity central right now. English Comp is so fun. School is so fun. Education is so fun. 

3. Artsy girl turned around today and said, "Miss Wright, do you think you want another one of my drawings soon?" I was shocked. Of course I gave a very enthusiastic, "YES! OF COURSE!"

4. Lunch with 8th grade girls was hilarious because of stories about screwdrivers accidentally going through hands and a trip to Kings Island and random strange noises.

5. I got to do some underground work on a really sweet project that is in the midst of production by doing research and making important phone calls and sending inquiring messages. I realize this is vague. But it was really fun.

6. We had a Fazoli's feast at leadership tonight. Everyone got approximately eight bowls and plates, fifteen breadsticks, half a pan of spaghetti and half a pan of alfredo, an entire salad and an Irish Cream cake. It really is such a gift that dinner is just provided for us by a Young Life family every Monday night.

7. Just Audrey, Eshan, Jenna, Mary Ellen, Jake and I were there for all of leadership so we told stories and laughed and talked about our team and camp this summer and the school year ending and where we'll all be next year. It was informal and community and just really great.

8. I love that I get to see Samantha, my token Camp AND YL girl, every Monday night. I love talking with Megan and Eshan and Seniors like Mac, Steph, Kayla, Coop and Emily about our highs and lows and prom and the Camps sheet and always wishing that we had more time.

9. Feeling close to friends that are actually quite far away is the best. Soon I will be far away from technology but for now I'm loving phone calls, texts, and emails with friends.

10. I was greeted at the door when I got home by a dog. Yep, a dog. Jumped on my leg and everything.  It is true that I found a dog on Saturday while mulching named Tucker that I grew very fond of, but that spontaneous burst of canine fondness has not become a permanent fixture of my personality. So while I'm indifferent about Oscar's overnight stay, I am glad that means that Colleen's mom Carol is here for the night.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

"Has anyone told you you're a free spirit?" "Well apparently I'm an old soul too."

Not only are fanny packs fashion forward but they are also incredibly convenient. Need someone to store your hall pass, pen, camera, eraser, highlighter, flash drive, and chapstick? Fanny pack. Wish people would quit stealing and hiding your pencil case everyday and you could just strap it to your body? Fanny pack.

It's making a comeback in the Junior High. Every Friday until summer break is Fanny Pack Friday. I'm sure the kids will join the teachers in the trend soon.

I love getting art from students and Friday I got one from someone unexpected. She asked me halfway through SLT what my favorite book was and then gave me the finished drawing at the end of the day. So cool.

Most memories of Friday nights with my family growing up involve dinner at Olive Garden and then going to a movie. This week I got to relive that old routine with Rachel and Emily. Bottomless salad and breadsticks, Italian culinary magnificence, and a we're-not-really-sure-we-liked-it comedy.

The weatherman had predicted showers for the entire day and thunderstorms for the afternoon, but still at 7:30 am we gathered to start our mulching marathon. 45 kids began in a cul-de-sac of six houses ready to be mulched. We were a machine, an army of wheelbarrows, shovelers and spreaders.

We worked on two houses at a time, even when the rain began and our shoes and sweatshirts and pants got soaked through. Still we trudged on...

Until the lightning... Then we had to take a 40-minute hiatus from mulching to hole up in the damp garage and play mafia. As soon as the storm broke we got back outside.

We lost a few good men to soccer games and other events but the meat of our team worked through the day pausing only for a Chik-Fil-A lunch and then picking up our shovels and pitchforks again.

Our team huddled up before the final house. These were the elite workers, the cream of the crop, the Olympians of mulching, the first draft picks, the ones who understand that work ethic is contagious.

Perhaps we're a bit insane to volunteer to mulch all day two Saturdays in a row with a bunch of High School kids, but Jake, Mary Ellen and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. It's sweet to hang out with these kids all day long because Delaney is the best mulcher in the world, Jessie and Felicia are border perfectionists, the Freshmen girls got to mulch for the first time ever, and we're glad we get to help them get to camp this summer.

Saturday night I not only got to hang out with my roommates but Molly came over and we got to eat Yats and then we got to go to Huddles and I got to create a new friendship bracelet pattern and go to bed before curfew. Perfect night.

Today after church I drove to Greencastle to gather with friend's for Arielle's bridal shower. There were girls from Alpha Phi, from theatre productions, her family, camp friends and Delphi friends. All of these different sections of her life were represented by people that love and care about her and are so excited to celebrate the upcoming wedding.

We sure know how to celebrate; Molly's punch and Claire's sandwiches, Katie's special presentation and Carolyn's streamers, Joe and Arielle trivia and toilet paper wedding dresses.

Every summer we tell our campers that their cabin mates could end up being their friends for life. I love days like this when we prove that's true. Nine women from Arielle's time as a camp and counselor came together to celebrate her today.

She's got a few more months before she becomes Mrs. Little. Arielle is my oldest friend and I can hardly believe we're not still camp kids running around during rest hour and climbing all over Mt. Wood. I'm lucky to have been able to grow up with her through every stage of life and I can't wait to be part of this next one.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Stockpile of words

I love written words. In my closet at my parent's house are plastic boxes of my old journals-- from the first purple Garfield one I bought at the Hillcrest book fair to the heavy, square, Quotable Quote one I filled in High School and all the leather Moleskines I wrote in throughout college. I have always felt this pull to write things down, to document where I've been and where I want to go, to write down favorite quotes and make lists with friends and keep track of all the things I love.

And nestled beside the boxes of my own scribblings sit shoe boxes packed with letters, hundreds of them at this point. I have held onto each of them because they brought me so much joy when I first read them. I can't throw things like that away. Some of the letters and cards I've reread many times, others bring me comfort just knowing they're there. Knowing that someone took the time to write each one makes them treasures, more valuable than anything they could have bought.

One of my primary love languages is words of affirmation. I feel most loved when people speak kind words and I often share my love through notes or letters. I realize not everyone's primary love language is words of affirmation, but it makes sense that I'm such a fan of being pen-pals and an avid supporter of love tanks all summer long. When the words are written down you have something tangible you can look back at as a reminder, a stockpile of kindness stored away in a shoebox.

When I was a Brave at Tecumseh I started writing letters back and forth with my best friend Murphy. We'd cover the envelopes in stickers and stuff multiple pages inside covered with our elementary school hand-writing. I have parent letters my counselors wrote about me when I was a camper in their cabin and cards people wrote to me when I graduated for High School. There's the speech my youth pastor Sheila read about me at Senior Sunday and letters my parents have written to me.

There are letters and signs from Lani that she wrote our freshmen year in the dorms. She gave me so much encouragement that first year. I have ring of index cards that all the girls in my sorority wrote before I finished at Hope. I love the cards that Rachel wrote me during college, she always knew just what I needed to hear. There are Casey Dawson letters and lists, easy to pick out with her heavy looped handwriting. My Young Life girls love to write colorful lines of words when they're away on work crew in the summer or as they're feeling reflective in college.

I love all the love tank squares of paper written from Pathfinders and CILTs. My girls wrote the notes during rest hour and before devotions, delivered them to my paper bag mailbox. There are shoe boxes with dozens of letters from Margaret and Mary and Sarah and Grace and so many of my first generation of campers. When I became a counselor I promised myself I would always write my girls back. That promise evolved into a time-consuming hobby that has been worth every hour of writing, every card, every stamp because of the way those letters kept us connected.

Now I have a file folder of letters from my students. All addressed to Miss Wright, there are notes about how I've impacted them, birthday cards, pictures they colored during SLT, letters they carefully wrote and delivered. These words are extra-special right now as I'm still figuring this whole teaching thing out, they give me assurance that I'm here for a reason.

This morning in Bible Study we talked how important it is to encourage one another, to develop a habit of loving one another so that we will do it without even thinking. We wrote love tank notes and finished as many as we could before we had to go upstairs to grab a donut on the way to school. These notes from Haley and Libby and Maddie are precious and their words make me so thankful I am where I am today. I'll tape them into my journal tonight and they'll become part of this ever growing collection of words.

Someday when I'm much older I'm sure I'll still be holding onto these boxes and drawers and crates of all these words. Together they make a chronicle of all the people I've overlapped with in different seasons of my life, each page telling my story and reminding me that I am blessed to have been so dearly loved. And I will keep writing because I hope that some of my words will end up in other people's journals and shoe boxes and closets. Maybe my slanted hand-writing, my letters and love tanks will find a spot in their collection where they'll stay until they need a reminder of how loved they are.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How many bubble wands are there?

While sorting through some old books today I found two titles that immediately reminded me of some friends. Either they were actually written by them and they used a pen name or they were the inspiration for the books.

MaryClaire Clemons #meow

Molly Henry #winning

Molly is under house arrest until the end of assassins and Alli and I needed some camp friend time, so we scavenged for pizza supplies and met up at the Henry house. Good friends and pizza can fix almost anything.

Tonight was a Taylor-Swift-accapella-singing, story-telling, tiger-roll-flipping, camp-anticipating, enthusiastically-venting, friend-supporting kind of night. TGFCF (Thank God For Camp Friends)

I like that I came home to find Cameron and Colleen eating banana splits. I like that No Pants Wednesday, we wear dresses, was a grand success for Colleen, Emel and I. I like that I got to talk to Kraft and Annie and Mags. I like that Katie sent me a picture of baby Lincoln because I missed him. I like that I managed to go to bed by 9:38.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

2 is 3, 3 is 5, 5 is 4, and 4 is a magic number

Most days I split my time between being a teacher, a Young Life leader, a camp counselor and a friend. I like that I can be more than just one thing, that I'm not stuck with one title. But today was a really teachery kind of day-- 6:45 faculty meeting, Diet Coke by 10am, chapter revisions in every class, creative sentence beginnings, lunch with 8th graders, planning for next week, cheering on runners at the track meet and hanging out with kids on the infield. Here my name is Miss Wright and hearing Sarah seems strange. They think it's funny when they see me in Nike shorts. Teaching "Four is a magic number" to 7th period took me back to riddles with the CILTs on the Longhouse porch.

A letter from my dear Hope friend Lani was waiting for me when I got home. I haven't seen her since graduation and our communication is scarce but I still have faith we'll be friends for years to come. She is one of the best examples of Christ I've ever met and she taught me how to be a friend that really cares, listens, and loves. Reading her pen-scrawled words brought so much joy.

Last year one of my favorite parts of the day was going into Sar's room and sitting on her bed so we could talk before we both went to sleep. I loved that our rooms were right next to each other. Now we're a state away and I miss seeing her every single day. But today we got to Skype for a bit which we don't usually do and I loved getting to hear her voice. And then I went to bed early. 9:30 kind of early. It was glorious. I'm not sure how it's so easy for me to forget that getting a lot of sleep is totally worth it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Things I Love

Campaigners on Monday nights
making lists with Mags and Annie
talking to Maeve on the way home
when Molly, Grace, Genna and Payton all went out of their way to come say Hi to me today
that today is Taylor Porter's birthday even if I can't be with her
reconnecting with one of my HS English teachers at Starbucks
friendship bracelets for summer camp

talking to Mags on Skype and never running out of things to say
Eshan's heart for God
how Jake makes everyone feel included
"Trust me, and don't be afraid. Many things feel out of control. Your routines are not running smoothly. Let me lead you to the rock that is higher than you and your circumstances. Take refuge in the shelter of my wings, where you are absolutely secure. You are mine for all time. Nothing can separate you from my love."
having a scratchy voice because it makes me feel like I have a camp voice
making thankful lists in Campaigners

Three days of overlapping

It's been one of my dreams and prayers for the past three years that we will one day have Young Life in Fishers. I've been involved with the relational ministry organization for years and have seen how it can significantly impact and change the lives of High School kids. I want that for the students that walk into my classroom everyday and for the kids I see in the hallways. For the past few months I've been a part of a group that has been talking about and taking steps towards making that happen as early as next year. This Friday I got a glimpse of what it might look like to have YL in HSE.

Originally I had planned to take these 8th grade girls to a christian concert but when tickets fell through we went for Plan B. The seven friends, one mom and I went to Noodles for dinner and then to see the Lucky One. I've gotten to know these kids for the past two years and they mean the world to me. No longer my students, these girls still visit me during the day, help out in my classroom, come to FBC, invite me to do Bop to the Top and a 5K with them and they threw me one heck of a birthday celebration.

It was so fun to get to spend time with them laughing at dinner and telling stories and sitting on the floor of the theatre because there were no seats left and just getting to spend time together. I really love these girls.

Saturday morning we awoke bright and early to begin mulching. As a YL camp fundraiser kids can come mulch for just a couple hours or for the whole day to make money towards paying their way to YL camp this summer. Families have mulch delivered earlier in the week and then we come and do the dirty work of spreading it all over their property.

We had about forty different kids show up over the course of the day to work alongside a handful of leaders and a couple committee dads. It's sweet to work alongside each other like this.

What might take a family an entire weekend to accomplish our expert team of mulchers can finish in just an hour. We pull in with our trailer of wheelbarrows, rakes, shovels, pitchforks and brooms and quickly get to work. Between 7:30 am and 5:00 pm our crew mulched thirteen different houses.

We saved the motherload for last. While most houses have six to ten yards of mulch, this was a seventeen yard pile. Insanity. But we powered through and got it done. That mountain still wasn't enough for their backyard, they ordered ten more yards for us to spread next weekend.

I was exhausted by the time I got back home and wanted to do nothing more but eat pizza and sit on the couch and watch a movie. Luckily, that's exactly what Heather, one of my YL girls, wanted to do after finishing a day of lifegaurd training. So we wore sweatpants and ate Arni's and talked about life and friends and next year and YL. I loved getting to hang out with her for the whole night. Heather is smart and kind and faithful and wise and beautiful and fun and greater than she realizes.

After sleeping double what I do in a normal night, I awoke just in time to race to church. I got there during the first song and found a spot in the front row next to my friends. We talked about hospitality, being real with people, creating a safe place for community. I'm lucky to be a part of a lot of different communities that have these qualities. I want to be intentional about continuing to help create this culture.

My friend Audrey was baptized after church with a crowd of friends from many parts of her life. She is such a light of Christ and it was beautiful to hear her share her testimony and heart before Linda baptized her. We celebrated with hugs and cupcakes and friends.
They challenged us to make today a day of prayer and listening to Christ's call on our life. Linda shared this verse, "May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in your faith, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, your whole life and outlook may be radiant with hope." Romans 15:13 I want to be filled with hope like that, I can't imagine many things more beautiful than your whole life and outlook radiant with hope.

Mary Ellen, Avery, Abby and I went to Chipotle together for lunch. Gosh I'm thankful for these friends. I'm thankful for conversation and out-dated fads and laughing and questions and car dancing and burritos and similar hearts and making time for people and kind words and being together.

I got an afternoon visit from Coll Kell, one of my favorite people to overlap with. She's honest and cares so much about her friends and an encourager and I can't wait to work everyday with her all summer long.

Molly and I had an adventure tonight. Don't you just love when you're in sync with someone and you think all the same things are funny? I love that we get to see each other so often all year long. I love that when we have a craving for pizza or frozen yogurt we know the other one will want to come get some with us. I love that we laugh loud and don't worry about if anyone is watching.

Her Senior class is playing assassians starting at midnight tonight. Every participant was given the name of a target. You get the other person out by shooting them with a squirt gun and then whoever they were supposed to kill becomes your next target. You can't get anyone at school, in their workplace, while they're driving, or in their house unless you're invited inside. Basically you can trust noone. In the words of Taylor Swift, "Everybody's waiting, everybody's watching, even when you're sleeping keep your eyes open."

We picked out a water gun (Did you know they make battery powered water guns now?), got plenty of batteries, and filled it up. I coached Molly on Target practice, ran through some dodging drills and talked strategy. I have faith she's going to do well.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Oh that smells so good. What is it?" "Baby Linc's spit up." "....Sick."

I got a lunchtime visit from Katie, Mom and baby Lincoln today. Linc does a great job of making any visit feel like a celebration, especially when he dresses up for the event. We ate Panera in my classroom, got visited by a couple students and walked around the building.

I love this little guy. I'm thankful that he's only a state away so I get to see him so often and that the whole Wright family will be at Tecumseh all summer long.

Tonight's Wyld Life club, Too Cool 4 School, brought out both our intellect and suspenders. We excel in both areas.

All the competitions were school themed--backpack relays, board races, recorder concerts and school supply scavenger hunts. Who knew school was so much fun?

Or that nerds have such great dance moves?

Jake and I talked tonight about how awesome it is to see the HS leaders take ownership of club, to see them make it something they're proud to be a part of.

Nothing like Sprite spraying games, Call Me Maybe dance parties, boys v girls competitions, and small groups having real talks all over the park. I'm blessed to be a part of this.