Thursday, August 29, 2013

Today's letters

Dear Maddy and Eliza,
I loved getting to have dinner with the two of you tonight. Two out of the three Wilson sisters is always a party. Hopefully Rachel can come next time too. Thanks for being camp in the real world, for your positivity and funny stories, for being so kind to one another and making me laugh. I love you both.
Dear Natty B,
Way to make a brown apron look so good. It was so fun to surprise you at work and see you in action tonight. It's still kind of crazy to me that you're old enough to have a job but I'm glad you're being responsible like that. I'm probably going to have to try Earth Fare's pizza now after seeing yours!

Dear Inventor of Photographs,
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without you it would be a lot more difficult to remember all the adventures, friends, campers, silly moments and big events that have filled my past. Pictures are one of my favorite things and I'd be lost without them and my walls would all be bare. Thanks for helping me capture so many things and people that I love.

Dear Summer,
Not going to lie, I'm still mad at you that you're over. Obviously I miss Tecumseh and Young Life camp, but I miss not having to deal with rest-of-the-year things too. For example: now I have to fill up my car with gas at least once a week because I'm driving across town instead of walking across Main Field. And another thing, I have the feeling that I'm going to be sucked back into TV world soon where I can't miss an episode of my favorite shows. I liked not watching TV all summer long because my days were filled with real experiences and real people and real conversations instead of fake ones on TV. So my dear Summer, if you want to show up again for a couple days or figure out how to last longer than 10 weeks next time, I wouldn't mind at all.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"I'm not really sure why you cared, but it made all the difference."

During week 6 this summer, we had a compliment cam that recorded counselors giving compliments to other counselors. They could talk about anyone on staff they wanted to, telling them why they loved them and what made them such a great counselor/partner/friend/person. We never saw the clips while we were at camp, but tonight Joel uploaded this video just for the staff.
It's 15 minutes of sincere, specific, genuine compliments (with chapel songs playing in the background- nice touch Joel). Watching my co-counselors talk about one another was exactly what I needed to see. I'm not even in the video, but that's not what it's about. It's about pointing out the good in others. It's about putting other people second. It's about making our words matter. It's about reminding people how they've made a difference. I think we should have compliment cams around all the time.
I wanted to keep that positivity going and started thinking about all the things I'm really thankful for right now:
The way Mikaela says "oh rat"
How Brookie giggles after everything
The way Kaylee and Maddie are such good sisters to each other
Seeing KCraig and Trulock love their kids whether they're being cute or pooping their pants
When Julia, Anne, Olivia, Kiki and the rest of the volleyball team are so appreciative that we come cheer them on
That Sarah Jane, Victoria and Lucy are so sweet and will come color FBC call out posters during SLT
That Mags calls me when I need a friend even though I didn't ask her to
Starting the Mumford and Sons bible study with Katy, Alex and Rachel today after school

Reading 1 Corinthians 13:1-10 together and talking about, "The beauty of love as it was made to be"
Getting texts from Emily and hearing about her day and how she's excited for tennis spirit jerseys and YL tonight
Seeing Sophie at volleyball with her Morgan Freeman fathead that's coming to all the games this week

Skyping with Katlyn and how I just know we were meant to be great friends
How Smooncat really listens and processes things when other people talk to her
How hearing, "Whatever tomorrow brings, together we'll rise and sing, that we won't be shaken," instantly transports me back to chapel and those wooden benches with my kids
A letter in the mail from my mom who loves me more than I'll ever realize
A heart to heart with Sophie and getting to tell her things that are so true about who she is
Life is good. The people around us are good. Let's focus on those things.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"She's not my camp counselor, she's my friend."

On this #awesometuesday I taught all my classes the clap-flip-flop hand game I learned at Tecumseh years ago. It seems really difficult when you first see someone do it, but everyone can catch on. All of my students practiced and learned how to do it. With my new swanky school iPad I taped them so I can show all the classes performing tomorrow.

Brookie and I had a night of athletic adventures. I love showing up at kids' sporting events but it's so much more fun when I have someone to go with me. I picked Brooke up and we went to Steak n Shake first for burgers and milkshakes. Then we went across the street to North Central where the HSE freshmen volleyball team was playing a match.

Julia's face was priceless when we walked in. Her jaw dropped and she whacked Anne's arm while pointing over at us. They were so excited to see us. Brookie and I sat on the front row of the bleachers and cheered them on as they spiked point by point to a 2-0 victory. This was their first win of the season so they were all extra excited. I love this whole team and cheering them on is one of my favorite things.

The volleyball game was over so fast that Brooke and I realized we could still make it to the Cathedral Varsity Soccer game. We headed over to surprise the girls on that team next.  Kaitlyn Ray had just finished her JV game so we got to sit with her on the bleachers and hang out. I saw Hannah, a camp Tecumseh girl, and Darian, an old Carmel YL girl too.

I used to see Brookie in the halls and visit her friends during lunch every single day. It's so strange only seeing her every once in awhile now. Tonight I was so happy to get to hang out with her and laugh and tell stories and ask questions about her life at Cathedral.

Kaitlyn, a session 2 CILT, was there and ran all the way across the field to see me. I love this girl and have missed her since camp. Then oh la la Olivia showed up for the second half.

I'm such a fan of Olivia and was so glad we got to hang out while we watched the end of the game. We cheered for Libby and Sophia Lipka as they worked hard out on the field. Neither team ended up scoring tonight which is kind of crazy, especially after coming from the volleyball game where someone scores every thirty seconds.

Overlapping with other people is my favorite thing. I'm so thankful to be in Indy where so many of my friends and kids from different parts of my life are nearby. Tonight I loved driving around with Brooker and getting to show up for so many people. These are my favorite kid of days.

Monday, August 26, 2013

"We were all late because of her steaming artichoke"

Fishers kids are some of the most busy people I've ever met. They have so many sports and practices and clubs and meetings and work schedules not to mention homework and advanced classes that they're part of. I'm proud of them for being motivated and involved, but sometimes all of that makes it difficult to actually see them. I'm so thankful when Campaigners on Monday nights is built into so many of their schedules. No matter what else is going on, they make it a priority to be here. They clear two hours out of their schedule to show up and be in this community together.
Tonight Haleigh and I even got to go to dinner before hand. It was the best part of my day, just sitting across the table from her while we ate chips and salsa and caught up about life. When Haleigh and I have one on ones at camp we can talk for hours and never run out of things to say. Tonight was such a gift to just sit with her for awhile.

We met in the woods again tonight for Campaigners, this little escape from the busyness and street lights and concrete buildings of Fishers. Out here it's just us and the trees. I love that we only have to drive a couple miles to experience something so different.

Ryan led us in "One Thing Remains" which is one of my current favorite songs, "Mighty to Save," a new song he wrote and "Amazing Grace." Singing in a group like this is the best. Out here I can't help but think of singing in the Green Cathedral back at Tecumseh.

Tonight we split into girls and guys groups and then talked about this blessing:

May the Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord protect you and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26

We talked about what all of those words really mean, times when we've felt those blessings and God's graciousness and peace. This is a prayer that we want to be intentional about praying for one another.

Monday night phone calls on the way home from Young Life are one of my favorites. Tonight I got to talk to Maggie for a long time-- she's seriously one of the greatest people I know. I got to talk with Smooney when I got back home about how much we just miss each other and being real life best friends. I texted with a couple CILT girls that I haven't talked to since CILTs but really miss. It was good to hear a little about the start of the school year. Sometimes technology can get in the way of life, but most of the time I'm really thankful for how easy it makes it to stay in touch with people I love.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Highs of the weekend

Fridays at school are jeans days which makes things so much better
I got up to 17 in the pencil game in the hall with Mr. Hodgin
I got to run after school around the lake and up a little hill I found

I went the HSE home football game with Julia and Olivia and stood in the bleachers with so many kids

Getting to see SO many kids at once was awesome-- freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors that I know from class or Young Life were everywhere

After the game Julia, Olivia and I went to Dairy Queen for blizzards and just got to hang out

When I went to sleep Friday night I didn't have to set an alarm for the first time since before school ended in the Spring

Saturday morning I slept in, got Starbucks and was so productive all over Indianapolis the rest of the day

Abby was having Grace, Lauren, Megan, Esmeralda and Nat Rat all over on Saturday and they showed up at my apartment to surprise me and hang out for awhile

Low of the weekend- I tripped on the stairs and broke my big toe. It hurts so dang bad. I'll be ok but it's real frustrating.

Skyping with Kat so late because it's Saturday and never getting tired of each other

Sunday morning I went to church at Common Ground for the first time since before camp and got to sit next to the Houghton's

I played with Rachie and Emily all afternoon in the B Ripp

I had my first Fishers Chick Flick Sunday with Malena, Ellie, Molly, Hannah, Anne and a guest appearance by KCraig and Alex

This weekend was just a great balance of overlapping and relaxing and getting stuff done and learning to be content right where I am

p.s. Eileen just posted this picture she took during week 7 and for some reason I just really love it. First, I'm usually the one taking pictures so it's fun to have a semi-candid one of me. Second, this is one of the small camp moments I really miss--I'm just living the dream with my side braid and yellow apple, rocking the 'Merica hat and Lincoln shirt, writing a PL about a CILT girl that I love so much, about to go teach some friendship bracelets with Ellyn when I finish. Life is so good.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

We keep each other going

The last group of CILTs may have moved out of the Longhouse and the Brova back in July, but that doesn't mean that CILTs really ever ends. At 6:30 tonight I showed up at Paradise to meet CILTs from all three sessions for dinner. That's one of the perks of living in Indianapolis-- SO many of the CILTs live in some part of the city. Ellyn made the trip up from IU to be here too and a group of girls drove down from West Lafayette. Seeing CILT friends is always worth the drive.

Session 1 was the best represented with Sophie Wagner, Sophie Millsaps, Jon, Prince Henry, Emily, Nicole and Amanda. Hey Session 1, remember when we used chopsticks for every meal, had Jock Jam day, made chocolate nachos at night, built a fort in Choctaw, did team building at the Gish and had the best dance party ever on Sports Mania night?

Session 2 had Taylor, Chandler and Rachel come tonight. There might have only been three of them but they were so excited to be there. Session 2, remember when we woke you up after midnight for donuts, celebrated Madison's fake birthday, went trick or treating, gave you three lice checks, ate dinner banquet style, tied balloons to our backpacks on the 4th of July, slept out on the River Lodge porch and built sweet forts at the Gish?

Session 3 was represented by Katie, Laura, Justin and Destany. Do you all remember when we all dressed up as Waldo, had an indoor songfest before lunch, brought the Party to the Party Room, did team building initiatives in the woods, played Fugitive/Dominican Chaos/4 on a Couch all in the same night, had a sweet devo about morality, ate breakfast tied together, made up a new game of Capture the Flag at the Gish, devoured a Chipotle burrito in one minute and went on a float trip?

Ellyn and I caught up on our daily pics. This girl is the best. I'm so glad I've already seen her twice since camp and know that it won't be too long before we're together again.

Once we got to group pictures it seemed only fitting that I'd get one with all the girls and Ellyn would get one with all the boys. We play to our strengths.

Tonight I'm so thankful that CILTs never really ends. Sure we don't get to live in the Longhouse or eat in the Party Room anymore, but CILTs in all about the people. As long as we can drive to see each other or talk on the phone or send mass texts we'll keep on being a family.

These kids have such a big part of my heart and I was so happy to get to see them all tonight. These reunions are funny though because while the CILTs are reunited with old friends they're also meeting people from other sessions for the first time ever. There are for sure awkward moments but we just try to embrace them. Once we all had our food we went around the table and did introductions-- everyone said their name, session, HS, something they're involved with, favorite part of CILTs and favorite Disney princess.

Kid President posted a new video A Tiny Poem to the World today and asked "Who keeps you going?" So many of the people that keep me going are CILTs; ones I saw tonight and ones that are scattered all across the country. We all keep each other going don't we? We've become part of each other's home team.

Justin asked me at the end of night why I like being a CILT counselor the best. I can rattle off a bunch of reasons that CILTs rocks but really it's just difficult to put into words. Going through two weeks of unique, challenging, awesome experiences with a team of 47 other people is unlike anything else you will ever do. CILTs really does change you.

Summer Blog Titles

For most of the summer I titled my blog posts with a quote that a camper or counselor had said that day. This is the compilation of all of those titles together. When I went back to find them all it was pretty amazing how that one line instantly transports me back to that moment. I remember where we were, who said, sometimes what we were wearing and all the emotion of that time. You may have no idea what any of these things mean but perhaps you'll still find some of them interesting or funny. These quotes tell the story of my summer.
Rule 1- you can only use one eye, Rule 2- you have to make this weird noise, Rule 3- you can’t smile
There may be flies on corn rows, Will Smith, Sponge Bob and Rugrats, but there ain’t no flies on us.
I can’t wait to DLP the mess out of these kids.
Drilled it!
He was a type A.
At this point I’m allergic to not running. I actually woke up with hives this morning.
If you blink your eyes really fast it looks like a strobe light.
Oh my gosh, we’re going to be on the blog.
Girls, wake up, it’s Christmas! Happy Birthday! It’s Easter… and Columbus Day… and Thanksgiving!
You’ve just got to put some swag in it, like old school boy band style.
I hit my head on the chicken coop and now it’s pounding.
Ohhhh… So it’s just like white water rafting.
I promise to not talk about the Crow’s Nest. If I do you can cut off a large chunk of my hair.
I haven’t left my room in three days. All I’ve done is sit and face time CILTs.
10?! That’s how many toes my sister Margaret should have!
I promise I’ve never lost anything in my entire life.
Good thinking if you were on
I’m going to trash these old pants on the mud hike. Bye bye little princesses.
That’s why people like me too—because I’m so pretty and sporty.
She’s got everything in that backpack. She’s like Dora.
I also have a measuring tape, a calculator, multimeter, volometer and ohmimeter.
I won the state championship at age 2. In tricycling. I still have the trophy.
Sarah Wright- not only does she participate, she’s hip.
Whatever happens in the circle during Finding Nemo, stays in the circle.
I just reached level 2 sweat.
I just ate 21 wings and now I’ve got 21 red hots in my mouth.
Wait, you still have to kiss him 4 times too or he’ll get confused and be like, wait did she die?
We were watching you the whole time. We just want to marry you.
You got to Cathedral? Qdoba.
It smells like you tried to do laundry in your dishwasher four months ago.
My grandma is tweakin, she just doesn’t understand.
Not to sound hipster or anything, but no one has ever heard of the bands I like.
The Earth is our Mother. We must take care of her. Hey yun a hoy yun a hey yun yun.
Do I fill up my water in this town or in the Lake one?
Yep, you’re definitely the dad in this relationship.
I don’t care about skipping lunch, I need my rest hour.
I can’t believe she’s an English teacher.
We’re coming- blueberries for the road.
She’s crying because watching Kyndal dance like Beyonce is so pretty.
With all the time we’ve put on makeup we could have gotten to level 347 in Candy Crush or learned 4 languages.
Do you have your bracelet on? I found it in the sand and now we’re best friends.
Do we have to kill our own food?
I peed in  a cup and dumped it in the creek. I wasn’t going to wait in that line.
I don’t have to jump off that pole to prove that I trust God.
Yeah- the score is 1 to sunburnt.
Hey, so guess what. I’ve been practicing how high I can jump without bending my knees. I’m really good at it.
Rest hour is like warm up for devotions because you should be reflecting on the first half of your day. It’s like a pre-devotion.
So you wanna play a game of pick up basketball or go have a two person songfest?
You’re just trying to complete a goal that doesn’t even matter.
I think camp is special because at the end of the week everyone gets emotional and cries and loves each other.
Stop crying! It’s not over! This is Tecumseh! We might wake up tomorrow and it’ll be week 1! You never know! Stop crying!
I know God’s real because he’s here at camp.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"She just keeps going up to boys on the playground asking if they want to be her friend but they don't want to be friends with a girl."

No Pants Wednesdays are always fun days. Wore a dress, taught my kids how to write thesis statements, visited tables in B lunch and got better at knowing my students' names. Right after school I headed over to the HS to pick up a couple Young Life girls. I pull up in the car line just as students are leaving the building and it's so fun because SO many kids I know walk right by me. Some of my Sophomore and Junior girls came over to talk and I had to get out of the car when the VanO girls got there. Maddie, a Sophomore, and Sophie, a Senior, are both equally awesome and hilarious. Somehow we decided they should do cartwheels right there on sidewalk. Maddie went first to show her big sister how and then Soph did her best attempt. Taking opportunities. I love it.

I picked up Alex, Katy and Rachel, three girls that I'm going to start meeting regularly with. Katy and Rachel I've known since they were my little 7th graders and I just met Alex today. We headed to Orange Leaf for an after school snack and then talked about life and what they want this group to look like. I'm so excited for what this could become and the chance to see these girls so often.

I had to go back to school at 6:00 for Meet the Teacher Night. I still vividly remember walking back into the school for this event my first year teaching. As I walked in with parents all around it was the first time that I felt really, really young. I was freaking out. But then my friend Casey reminded me that I'd been meeting parents at Tecumseh for years and this was basically the exact same thing. The night started and I found that it wasn't bad at all, it was even kind of fun. Now in my 5th year teaching (I can hardly believe it) I wasn't nervous at all. The six minutes you're talking to each set of parents flies by and it was so fun seeing parents I knew in the hallway from past students and YL kids.

Back at home I finally started hanging up pictures and art on the walls of my new apartment. More than anything else, that really makes it feel like I live there.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Do you go to Carmel?" "No, I'm a teacher at the Junior High." "Oh... ok then I guess."

Kid President asks, "What will you do to make the world more awesome?" This semester my students and I are going to try to make our school and the world around us more awesome. Sometimes I think you have to look for what's boring and then try to make it better.
I think Tuesday is usually one of the most boring days of the week, nothing really happens on Tuesdays. This year in English Comp we're going to have #awesometuesdays and do something weird/fun/creative to make it more awesome. Today we had a blue flash mob. On Monday my students' homework was to wear blue to school the next day. In the halls and in room 124 today it was obvious that they had followed through. Almost all of my kids were wearing blue and many of them were wearing blue shorts, blue shirt, blue socks and blue shoes. So much blue. I'd say our first #awesometuesday was a success.
One of the things that will make my new apartment feel like home is having friends over to visit. Luckily I've got some pretty great friends that are willing to do that. Right after school today Allison Stamer showed up. She goes back to IU tomorrow but made the trip over to see me. This girl is the best. We talked about the end of summer and her life at IU and Young Life camps and our Wyld Life cabin from the beginning of the summer and going back to school and roommates. She's one of those people that I feel like I never have enough time with.
Later tonight Emily and Rachel showed up at my door for a visit. I've lived just a few blocks from them for the last two years and now we're about 30 minutes apart. I'm confident that I'll still get to see them a lot. I've missed this pair this summer and it was good to just sit and catch up. We each have our own classroom now and I got to hear all about their new students. Emily also had a great surprise for me from her Dad-- five wolf shirts he was about to give to Goodwill!

One of the things I'm really excited about this Fall is Volleyball season! Seriously. Never thought I'd ever say that. But last year the 8th grade girls made me love going to their matches and cheering them on.  Now these girls are on the Freshmen and JV teams and I can't wait to sit in the stands again and clap for every point. Tonight I watched the Freshmen, JV and Varsity matches, saw parents of the players, sat with kids in the stands, ran into my cheerleader girls, visited Seniors in the student section and hung out with Julia while she taped the last game.

My family sent me a picture of little Red wearing his new lion shirt that I brought up last weekend. Isn't he just the cutest?

Today was a pretty awesome Tuesday.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Back in school and back to Campaigners

The best part of Mondays during the school year is that we get to go to Campaigners on Monday night. Today was the day that I got to jump back into that routine. I couldn't wait to get to this part of my day. KCraig, her kids and I met Kate, Maggie, Maddy, Natty B and Kayla for dinner at Hamilton Town Center first. It was good to see these older girls and get to hear about being back back at school. Maddy is a Senior now which is insane and Kayla just switched to our school from Heritage. All sorts of changes and transitions going on around here.

This is Kathy Craig or more commonly known as KCraig. She has become one of my best friends both in the Junior High and in Young Life. At this point I can't imagine doing either one without her. She's one of the most ridiculous, bold, hilarious, energetic, Jesus-loving and crazy people you will ever meet. I'm so thankful that I get to do all of this with her.

Tonight I got to experience Campaigners in the woods for the first time. YL has been meeting out at the Devoe's property all summer but up until now I'd only seen pictures. It's beautiful out there. I immediately felt like I was back in the Oak Forest. We pulled up to find kids already hanging out and talking in circles. This has become another home and safe place for these kids. Tonight old Young Life kids and new friends circled up to talk about peace. It was exactly the conversation I needed to be part of.

A time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16: 32-33

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:14

Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Phillipians 4: 6-7

Tonight was so, so good. I'm amazed when I hear kids share and realize how much they've grown in their thinking and faith. I love seeing kids of all different ages and friend groups gathered together in this community. I'm thankful that this has become a meaningful and important part of so many of their lives. I am blessed by leaders like Todd, Shawn and KCraig that give up time with their families to be part of this. This is awesome.