Sunday, March 31, 2013


I love Spring Break. I wish we could have it more often. While the more traditional approach is to run away to somewhere hot, I'm going on a tour of the Midwest this year to see lots of the people and places that I love. Friday morning I started with breakfast with the one and only Taylor Porter. She lives in Colorado now but I'm so thankful that she was home for Easter so we could hang out. I got to hear all about her latest adventures, meet her Sushi and drink gallons of coffee.

I drove up to Chicago for a weekend of adventures with Maggie. We decided awhile ago that we wanted to come up to the city together and see random friends. This weekend I'm on Spring Break and her brother has a show in the city so it works well for us. Unfortunately a lot of the people that we thought we'd visit are away on their Spring Break. We still had lots of fun starting in La Grange.

Megan Nocita, a CILT this past summer, came up to meet us for dinner. She's hilarious and I love getting to spend time with her.

We made weird faces and got other people to do it too. 

Rain, Nina and Katlyn came to meet us for a pizza dinner too. It's fun to all be together, even when everyone doesn't know everyone else at the table.

The fiesta size pizza was delicious and we all shared a big cookie for dessert, just like at YL camp.

Hanging out with all of these camp girls was so much fun and a great start to the weekend. I'm so excited to have Rain and Katlyn in session 3 CILTs this summer.

Next Mags and I headed to the North Shore to meet up with Sarah Briggs and Ben. We got to hang out with a really fun family from their church, play with Meryl and Ally, watch a handstand competition and tell funny stories.

Saturday morning Mags and I went off to explore the Lakefill by Northwestern. First we went to the beach of Lake Michigan...

Then we walked on the giant boulders by campus that the students can paint. It's so fun to hop from rock to rock reading what they've written, escaping a shark attack and picking our favorites.

We drove into the city to meet up with Maggie's family that all gathered for her older brother's show that night. Bubba, Jane and Jim took us to lunch at Antique Taco down the street. The place was SO cool and the food was even better. I love being with "locals" when I go somewhere new so that they take us to the best spots like this.

After wandering around with Mags I headed back to meet Sar and Ben to hang out the rest of the night. Somehow I never took a picture of them... but I got a picture of our Pizzalad that we ate for dinner. It's salad on top of a pizza--terrifying to look at but really delicious. I'm pretty sure my roommates would love this.

Our evening was full of running errands, checking out the Paper Source and picking up two of their YL friends from the airport. While there I send out a "Anyone in O'Hare right now?" text to eight Chicago camp girls. The next time I looked at my phone I had a text and three missed calls from Katie Erwin who had just returned from Belize. She was walking to the baggage claim one terminal over. Ben dropped me off at the right part of the airport and I ran inside to see her for about two whole minutes. I just love this girl and hadn't seen her since December. I can't wait to be together this summer.

When I was in HS my youth group friends and I took a yearly trip to a student ministries conference at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. It was always one of the highlights of my year and the things I heard and experienced there profoundly shaped me into who I am today. When I realized that we would be in Chicago on Sunday I told Mags we just had to go there for Easter Sunday.

Willow is huge. Like bigger then a football stadium huge. Like multiple services a weekend that all pack this room. Like two jumbo screens that show you whats happening on stage because it looks so small from your seat. Some people aren't into mega churches like this that may seem impersonal and showy, but I know so many people are authentically experiencing Christ here and I love when I get to visit.

After the service Mags and I did a little tour of whole place checking out the bookstore where I first discovered Cold Tangerines and all the spots I used to hang out with my friends when we came here for those conferences years ago. Mags and I parted ways after church but as she pointed out, we'll probably see each other again sooner than we expect because we're just spontaneous like that.

The next stop on the Midwest tour brought me to Holland, MI where my parents now live. My parents, grandma, Katie, Nick and Lincoln, and Nick's parents Dean and Linda were all gathered together for the Easter afternoon. We spent the afternoon watching basketball, non-stop snacking and taking turns playing with Lincoln. This child is the greatest.

Lincoln and I love our hats... and chips... and being best friends... and going on walks.

Cutest little family ever? Baby number two will be here by the beginning of September!

The grandparents all got in on playing Spot It.

I'm so thankful for this family and that we all get to be together for a few days. It's going to be a great week.

*Honest confession: I may have lied a bit on Instagram.

When Mags and I started putting pictures on Instagram we couldn't think of a funny caption for our photo so we said "Hello Las Vegas #midwesttour" which is obviously hilarious because we were not in Las Vegas and Las Vegas is definitely not in the Midwest. Judging by the likes and comments that followed people believed our location.

Meanwhile all of the camp and YL kids I know are on Spring Break in warmer destinations so we decided to continue posting our pictures from stereotypical Spring Break locations, none of which are in the midwest. When we picked up friends from the airport it was the perfect backdrop for another picture on my whirlwind of a pretend Spring Break.

Spring Break is just a few days in and I've already had so many adventures and seen such great people. I can't wait for the days ahead.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring Break has begun!

Today we all dressed up for Beach Bum Day, the principal brought giant donuts for the teachers and everyone couldn't stop looking at the clock to see if we were getting any closer to the bell at 2:45. Once the bell rang we were on SPRING BREAK!

My big event of the night was a trip to Chik Fil A for the Tecumseh City Wide Spirit Day. Most Indy locations were contributing part of their nightly proceeds to go to camperships. I showed up with Katherine and Amanda, two great alumni CILTs. I was excited to see McSoley walk in with three girls she was baby-sitting. They squeezed into a booth with us and made us laugh all dinner long. Then the Avagian family (minus Emily) showed up and sat beside us-- quite the reunion. Here's to waffle fries, neon sweatshirts and old friends. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Have you heard my rap skills? I've been called the song bird of my generation."

When I applied to college I wasn't sure if I wanted to grow up to be a teacher or a youth pastor. I knew I liked working with kids and I was passionate about my faith. I ended up at Hope and started in their education program to become a teacher. Besides a couple religion classes forgot all about the ideas of a leading a youth group some day. But sometimes, on days like today, I look at my life and realize that God can still make anything happen. I may be a teacher by profession but the biggest moments of my life are when I'm walking in faith with dozens of Junior High and High School kids. It blows my mind some times how he works.
I started early this morning with a group of girls having a picnic breakfast on my classroom floor while we talked about Cold Tangerines. "Miss Wright, every chapter is so good. I don't know how that's possible. Every chapter in Love Does was so good too."
We met with the Jr Campaigners girls pre-Club since our pre-Spring Break week schedule is all weird. KCraig and I are continually floored by how awesome it is to grow with these girls. We're having conversations about Moses and the 10 Commandments, getting them to think about what's going on with gay marriage instead of just giving them an answer, talking about kids in their classes they want to share Christ with instead of judging or hating them, building a community of accountability. Tonight one of the girls asked, "So there's no way we can finish this before school's out. Can we still keep doing this all summer?" They're on fire. It also kills me that I can't be with them all this summer.

At 7:00 the caravan of mini-vans and SUVs pulled around the cul-de-sac to drop off droves of seventh and eighth graders dressed up for Costume Club. Tonight there were more new faces and friends from the other two Junior Highs.

These days I can't imagine not having Wyld Life. It would be strange to not do this every other week, to not know all of these kids, to not be able to have this much fun with kids that are all looking for a place to belong.

In every area where I've led it's a common idea that Young Life is for the "popular" kids. Not every kid is going to love coming here, I get that, but I want every kid to feel welcome if they want to check it out. This week I challenged some of our regulars to seek out friends from their classes and teams who haven't come yet, to personally invite them to come to Wyld Life. So many of their friends showed up for the first time.

Celebrating Halloween in March is pretty fun. Actually, I think dressing up any time is really fun.

While we wait for a critical mass to arrive we all run around outside and the girls take pictures. I love that when I try to get the boys to take a group picture this is what happens. So natural. If I back up to get more of them in the frame they just keep moving towards me.

Wyld Life is just fun-- yoga poses on top of posts fun, dressing up like your older sister and her boyfriend fun, being friends with everyone fun, forgetting about homework and tomorrow's math test for an hour and half fun.

These kids make me laugh. The girl in the middle, she hair-sprayed and bobby-pinned her hair so it would stay across her forehead like that. So impressive.

The basement was a party tonight. The 8th grade girls did such a good job of bringing everyone together to sing the songs. They're all slightly ridiculous and just totally awesome.

Tonight I was sitting with Jordan, my friend from my youth group growing up, as the kids played a game we first learned in the Rock Solid Youth Room with our youth pastor Sheila. Back in those days I LOVED going to church. Hanging out with my youth group friends was always my favorite part of the week. But I remember Sheila telling us that she wouldn't be able to judge the success of the program until she saw where we were a few years out.

Jordan and I have grown up since the days of 30 Hour Famines and Superchick concerts and we're still growing in our faith all these years later. I know that Sheila is happy with where we've ended up. Now I'm so curious to see where these kids will be a few years from now. Will the words we're sharing with them really sink in? Will what we're doing in Club affect how they live the rest of their week?

We're about laughing and being goofy, meeting kids where they are and challenging them to something greater, playing gross games and running around like crazy.

I love that here, like at camp, these kids can just be kids. They're not trying to get an A, to make Varsity, to be perfect or rebellious. They're just being kids-- weird, silly, loud, thoughtful, courageous, funny, smart, unique kids.

Lori gave the club talk tonight and got us thinking about WWJD. Maybe you remember the bracelets from a decade ago that got every one thinking about What Would Jesus Do?  Lori got us thinking not about What Jesus Would Do but about What Jesus Did for us.

The stairwell crew talked about what it means to carry our cross, how we would have reacted if we were there when Christ was crucified, how we can share this "God wisdom" and what it would mean to think about WWJD before we acted. Tonight I was so thankful for their brave questions, for thoughtful comments and ideas. In the few months we've been meeting together I've seen them grow so much.

I'm thankful for this wolf and lamb, for Audrey showing up to help every single week, for all the HS kids that came because they love YL so much, for Genna dancing in front of the crowd, for Kailee and Avery coming for the first time.

I'm thankful for hearing kids share scripture up front, for Carter playing Viva La Vida, for Malena being goofy, for Julia and Olivia being awesome, for answered prayers, for things we could never make happen on our own.