Monday, September 30, 2013

Dear Young Life girls,

Dear Young Life girls,
I love you guys. Every single one of you has become a part of my heart. Getting to live life with all of you has changed my life. When I was first introduced to Young Life almost ten years ago (when some of you were in diapers and Kindergarten) I never imagined that it would become something this awesome or such a big part of what I do.  

Being a young life leader is one of the most rewarding, challenging, life-giving, awkward, incredible and meaningful things I've ever been a part of. Middle school and HS are crazy years for everyone and it seems even crazier that I would choose to go back and enter into that world with all of you again. But I love it. I love getting to walk with you in the craziness.

Stepping into your world is often uncomfortable, but it's always worth it. Thank you for welcoming me in, saying hi in the bleachers, and texting me after your games. I love getting to see you do the things you love so much. Whether it's defending the goal, cheering on the sideline, making an awesome pass to the setter, singing on stage or running for a new PR you are amazing. You spend so much time in practices and rehearsals and for a second I get to see you doing something you love.

Getting to spend so much time with all of you has been one of the most life-giving things I've ever done. It's this reverse economy that doesn't really make sense. My schedule is so often wrapped around yours but instead of feeling worn out at the end of the day I feel so content. Waking up early for the Love Does girls or staying up too late talking when you've had a rough day is exactly how I want to spend my time. You are never an inconvenience. You are always worth my time.

I've loved books my whole life. When I was little my family would go to the library and my sister and I would each fill up a whole tote bag full of new chapter books. So heavy that we almost couldn't carry them, we'd hug the bag to our chest, excited to read about these characters. We'd spend hours turning the pages, learning about the adventures of the Baby-Sitter's Club girls or the world of Harry Potter. Stories have always been one of my favorite things.

Living life with all of you reminds me of those bags full of books from the library. I get to hear your stories. Across dinner tables, in the car on the way home from Campaigners, in rocking chairs at camp and over text messages I get to hear your stories. They've become my favorite ones.

They're stories of looking for love and meaning. Tragedy and overcoming the difficult things. Your lives are stories about love, about fitting in, about your families, about brokenness and finding healing. Sometimes these stories are hilarious and you make me laugh to the point of tears. Sometimes they're the saddest stories I've ever read and wish I could turn the pages to the chapter when everything gets better. All of your stories are different and I love hearing each one. I think the very  best part is that these stories are not over yet.

My hope and my prayer is that every single one of you know in the depths of your soul that you are loved. You are loved by a God that knows you and created you. He made you with a purpose and you are not a mistake. He loves you unconditionally-- no matter how much you screw up or how impressive or popular you are-- he won't love you any more or less. I hope you find freedom in that truth. You are more than enough. No matter what anyone else says, you, just being you, is more than enough.

I hope you find that the more you show up to Young Life and the more that you look for Christ that you will see your life and your priorities shift. Just like it says in Matthew 16, "Whoever tries to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." We were talking in Campaigners tonight about how following Christ means our lives look different than most people. Instead of perfecting our lives, we're giving it all over to His control.
Your identity and joy is found in Christ rather than how much you can achieve or do or impress. We get the courage to stop chasing things that only bring temporary happiness. As we take steps to become more like Him-- to love the things He loves and the people He loves-- we'll point others to him too.

I love that we're on this journey together. I certainly don't have it all figured out yet but I'm learning more because I get to live life with you. We get to have hard conversations about things that matter. Thank you for those times when you've been so honest with me about things that are hard or the things you just don't understand. Often it's the hardest conversations that bring us the closest.

Spending time with you is one of the ways I find joy. I get to ask you to hang out a lot, but never for a second think I don't love getting a text from you that says, "Can we get dinner this week?" or "Sar, I just really need to talk." I love you girls and I'm so proud of you. Keep being awesome. Keep shining your joy. Keep working to make the world better for the people around you. You're already making my world better.

Love you all,

Sunday, September 29, 2013

"We're going to be horses! Horses are majestic."

This morning the whole family went to church at Central. I think it's awesome that Katie, Nick, Mom, Dad, Linc and Red all get to go together every Sunday. Nick sings in the choir, Linc goes to his Sunday School class, we sit in the same pew every time and after church we got a bagel at the little cafe. Here's just a couple more pictures of the boys. (Yes, Lincoln loves carrying my mom's purse.)

Mom, Dad and I went to lunch at the Butler in Saugatuck before I headed back to Indiana. I'm so thankful for parents as great as these too. They love us so well and are always willing to do anything for us.

I know Ellyn will think these are sweet, but hopefully more of you will too. Katie gave me these friendship bracelet temporary tattoos she discovered. How awesome are these?

Grey's Anatomy will forever be one of my favorite shows. I've followed the characters for years and feel like I actually know them. The monologues over the final minutes are some of my favorite lines. In this week's premier I loved these words,

"We're all going to die. We don't get much say over how or when. But we do get to decide how we're going to live. So do it. Decide. Is this the life you want to live? Is this the person you want to love? Is this the best you can be? Can you be stronger? Kinder? More compassionate? Decide. Breathe in. Breathe out. And decide."

I got home just in time for Alli Sams, Hannah and Brookie to come over for chick flick Sunday. Oh holy, these three. They were all in my cabin this summer at Michindoh and Sharp Top. I love that we get to keep being part of each other's lives all year long. Tonight we laughed and they helped me start a new bracelet and we watched Easy A and ate an abundance of popcorn. Hanging out with them is always fun.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lincoln's 2nd Birthday!

I love waking up at Katie and Nick's house and getting to play with the boys right away. Redford is already up with Kate and I get to go in and get Lincoln out of his crib. He's definitely sleepy for a little bit but still so precious. It didn't take him long to find the Red Flyer big wheels bike that I gave him for his birthday.

The dashboard makes noises and lights up-- it's his favorite part of the bike.

We took it outside to try it out on the sidewalk and he pushed it forward and back. Linc figured out he could put his water bottle on the back of the bike as he pushed along.

We explored all over the yard as we waited for the whole family to arrive for the birthday party.

Ever since my family went to Alaska for cousin Kevin's wedding Lincoln has been obsessed with bears. Every time he gets in the car he points out the window looking for bears. Mom and Dad borrowed this giant carved bear from their neighbor for decoration at the birthday party.

Did you know Lincoln carries his juice with him everywhere? All day long he always has a bottle of 1/2 apple juice and 1/2 water in his hand. Mom and Redford came out to play with us too.

We climbed up into Lincoln's new fort and he had fun pushing me down the slide.

He's a little Explorer-- driving the steering wheel, looking out the windows and yelling hi to people in the yard.

He found the baseball gloves to go play with Mom. He'll do anything with her all day long. They're just the very best friends.

The birthday party was a huge picnic for the whole extended family and a few friends from church. This year's special hot dogs were the Grizzly Dog (mac and cheese, bacon and bbq sauce) and the Polar Dog (cream cheese and caramelized onions). Nick is always coming up with interesting food concoctions. I made a combination of the two and it was delicious.

After eating most of his hot dog chunks Linc resorted to just scooping up the ketchup and sucking it off of his fingers. He thinks it's delicious.

Then we all just played more in the yard-- riding the bike, trying out Uncle Nate's bow and arrow, playing Nick's home run derby game to get a snack prize. There are twelve grand-kids and they were all running all over the place, well the ones that can run.

We all sang Happy Birthday to Lincoln and he got to blow out the 2 candle before we all grabbed dessert.

There were cupcakes with bears on top, brownies shaped like bears and ice-cream.

Love this little man and so thankful for him and all the joy he brings to this family.

We love the Dekoster family, now complete with little Redford.

Lincoln and Red are lucky to have all four of their grandparents living so close by.

The trick to get Lincoln to smile in pictures lately is to ask him what he wants for his birthday. He grins and shouts, "MONEY!" Grandma pulled through and gave Linc a bag of change today. They put every coin right into the piggy bank, he was unconcerned that it's not his piggy bank.

Lincoln's birthday weekend also always lines up with Hope College Pull, one of the coolest and most intense traditions. Nick was a puller and pull coach while at Hope and we always go back to watch the event.

The Pull is a giant tug-of-war across the Black River. Even Year (red and white) is on one side and Odd Year (maroon and gold) is on the other. Both teams have twenty pullers in pits that are holding onto and pulling the rope for three hours.

The Pull is insane. Pictures don't do it justice and it's something you've really go to see in person.

So many alumni come back for the event and I got to see a handful of friends. Mostly I played with Linc as we walked around the Even Year side and threw sticks into the River. Everyone loved his 34 Pull shirt (the Pull team he'll be on one day if he goes to Hope). I asked him if he could put his arms down so I could take his picture and he got very stoic.

Lincoln takes the Pull very seriously.

The Dekosters are quite the Pull family. Redford had on a 36 Pull onsie too.

The five of us met Mom and Dad for dinner at the Brewery, our favorite spot in Holland. Nick and I got texts during dinner that Even Year was victorious this year and Nick was elated. We had a low key night back at the farm house reading books to Linc before bed and then watching Master Chef Juniors (so impressive and entertaining). Between Linc's bday, cheering at the Pull and spending so much time with family it was a really awesome day.