This weekend I got to go to the Raceway Region Leader Summit in Baghdad, KY. This event is one of my favorites of the Fall. All of the Young Life and Wyld Life leaders across KY and IN come together for 24 hours to learn and play and grow and just be together. I had to miss the Summit last year, but this weekend I got to go with four other adults and six HS leaders from HSE.
We met up early at the HS to pile into my car and KCraig's mini-van. With coffee in hand and music rocking we started the road trip South. I had Natty B, Hannah and Maddy singing and making potholder headbands in my car. KCraig's entertaining passengers included Kocher, Lori Trulock, Chad, Brannt and Jacob. Ryan and Lauren were already down at the Summit so we would meet them there.
About an hour away from Cedarmore, the camp we'd be staying at, we pulled off the highway for lunch at Cracker Barrel. Every mid-westerner knows that Cracker Barrel is thee spot for road trip eatin' but this was Brannt's first experience. He just moved here from Texas this year and we were all so excited for him to sit on the rocking chairs outside and get his fill of the best country food around.
Any time you hang out with this many YL friends you know it's going to be hilarious. Lunch did not disappoint. Fried apples, mac and cheese, chicken and dumplings, a side of ham, three kinds of pancakes, eggs in a basket, eggs over easy, french fries, chicken fried steak, breakfast casserole and a few other delicious treats filled every inch of that table.
After thirty minutes of driving on winding country roads we finally rolled into camp and were greeted by the YL staff running the weekend. They directed us to our dorm and we threw all of our stuff onto our bunks. We couldn't wait to get outside and run around. I was thrilled to see old YL friends and get to experience all of this with KCraig, Maddy, Natalie and the rest of our friends.
These people are the bomb. Especially when they're not ready for a picture.
I love that these people are all up for having fun, for going on adventures, for doing life together, for being ridiculous, for taking really fun pictures.
This weekend brings leaders from EVERYWHERE so I get to be reunited with so many people that I care about. I ran to hug Allison Stamer, an old YL girl and co-leader at camp recently, and Abby Miller, a leader from Butler. These are two of the most incredible, Christ-seeking, selfless, joyful, adventurous girls that I know. I'm seriously so lucky to call them my friends.
Just like when we take kids to camp, all of the leaders have Clubs together with songs, games, raffle and a speaker. In our first session Annie Houghton, a good friend of mine, spoke and her session was my favorite of the whole weekend.
I think we need reminders. We are forgetful people. We need to remember what God has done and what he is doing.
God told the Israelites to build a tent where he would dwell. He said, "I want to go with you." We as leaders and followers of Christ have to be "go with" kind of people.
Incarnation. The Lord became flesh and dwelled among us. Going has great power--to transform, to bring new life, to change lives.
So often I don't know the correct response except to go. Compassion means "to suffer with." We have to be "go with" kind of people.
My prayer is that we don't forget that we will probably never be asked to suffer alongside someone. You have to insert yourself and go.
John 14:27 Set your troubled hearts at rest. Get up and go.
We rotated through 3 different spring board sessions in the afternoon with a smaller group of attendees: The Cultural Gap, Who Is Welcome At The Table and Transforming Club. There was a lot of time to discuss with our small group in each break out.
During free time before dinner I brought my HSE people over to meet the Carmel team, where I used to lead, and we all played Family together. It was one of my favorite parts of the weekend just because all of these people that I love and have history with were together.
Tony tried to run the game, new friends were made and Griffin Goover came out victorious at the end of it all.
We ate Thanksgiving dinner as an HSE family and it was delicious. I'd been anxiously waiting for fountain Diet Coke and the cinnamon and cream cheese cake was to die for.
I got to walk around and talk with Allison before the next Club and it was so, so good. Funny how something as simple as talking with a friend can be so important. But this girl just gets me and knows my heart and I care so much about her life these days and how she's growing and experiencing life. I love any time I get to spend with Al.
The next challenge is Young Life's Got Talent was one of the weirdest games I've ever watched. Soda Chugging Candle Blowing is a race between extreme competitors. You have to light your candle and then start chugging your two-liter of pop. If someone blows out your candle you have to stop chugging to relight it. If you spit pop on anyone's candle you are eliminated. I can't imagine chugging that much pop in the first place, let along having to worry about lighting candles and blowing out the competition at the same time.
Billy gave the Club Talk tonight and once again I was inspired by his story. My favorite part may have been that he used a bible story that I'd never heard before. Lately it felt like on all of our camp trips that our kids were hearing the exact same three stories but this was so refreshing.
Young Life leaders are often, "gloriously out of place." This is exactly where we are supposed to be.
Beniniah went into the dark pit to kill the lion. Where are the dark places in your community where no one else ill go?
Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck down the Philistines and the Lord brought a great victory. Are you willing to stand in the middle? Do we act and believe like God has already won our school?
Elezar made a stand by himself, stood his ground and struck down the Philistines until his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. What are you holding on to? Is it the right thing? We need to hold onto the elite around us, but if you aren't holding on to God and his word and his spirit you will not last. We must be grafted into Christ.
When we left club they sent us down to the lake where we found this awesome barn party all set up. We had an old fashioned square dance, just like the one our kids experience at YL camp. All of HSE made a giant square and free-styled when we couldn't figure out the do-si-do or the promenade.
I knew what was coming next-- Graeter's ice-cream! You have to race to get a cup of the Black Raspberry Chip before it's all snatched up. Then we plugged in our ipods and the dance party got a little YL crazy. Most of the leaders stayed and continued dancing for the next hour. This is always one of my very favorite parts and our HS kids couldn't stop talking about it the next day. YL dance parties beat everything else.
Without even trying to we stayed up till 2am. Once we were all ready for bed we crawled into our bunks and the girls requested Puppies from Cold Tangerines as our bed time story. It's not a camp trip without a bed time story.
The next morning I woke up a little early to go to one of the lean in conversations. This year they had nine different sessions that anyone could go to before breakfast--multicultural ministry, capernaum, wyld life, college life, young lives, working professionals, future YL staff, GLBT and Vida Joven. I really liked the way they set this up rather than trying to get everyone shuffled through all of the topics.
We met up with our kids for breakfast and filled a whole table again. You can never have too much coffee so we sat and just hung out for a long time. The last item on the agenda was one more Club together. One of the greatest gifts of the Summit was getting to experience it with these HS kids. We've challenged them to become Wyld Life leaders this year and I hope this experience has helped them catch more of the vision of what we're doing together.
I'm so lucky that Natalie, Maddy and I all get to share Tecumseh and Young Life together. These girls are such a part of my heart and my extended family. They were such a blast this weekend.
Ryan and Lauren did an awesome job of leading us in music and worship all weekend. They are so talented and it's so cool to get to see them do this together.
Hannah got pulled up for the last Young Life's Got Talent game and competed in streamer unrolling. This game never fails to be entertaining.
I loved having Allison, Matt and Evan proudly wearing their FBC sweatshirts this weekend. Don't they look so good? They can't wait for this year's design and more of their friends want to be in the Club too.
Jack gave the last club talk about being part of the revolution.
The revolution starts now. In all of our brokenness and junk. We are it.
He spoke to us about Jesus being the biggest revolutionary that ever lived. About a woman named Abigail. About the great banquet and going out to invite the most unlikely people to the party.
Go find those kids. Black. Homeless. Gay. Disabled. White. Angry. Abused. Bullys. Go find them.
We are called to love them and not judge them. To embrace them. To take them in. To welcome them. Our schools are our mission field.
Young Life is crazy. It's nuts. We're going into the middle of this messy, ugly, stressful, crazy world of teenagers. It's scary. When there is purpose connected to what we're doing the fear dissipates.
On barf bags (yep, awesome symbolism) we had time to write down our response to why we're doing this scary, crazy thing called YL. Why are we called to this? After a weekend of speakers and conversations and taking so much in, it was good for me to write and process what was going on in my head.
I'm so thankful that Lani and Emily introduced me to Young Life when I was just a little freshmen at Hope College. I'm thankful for my Michigan YL girls Lauren and Lindsey and Kara that helped me discover why this ministry is so great. I'm thankful for Sam and her parents because they pulled me into Carmel YL. I'm thankful for Ellyn, Allison, Taylor, Dom and Susan--the girls that let me be part of their lives, that let me dive into honest conversations with them, that made me love YL. I'm thankful for Jenna, Sarah Briggs, Mary Ellen, Jon and Annie, David and Alex-- these leaders that showed me what being part of a community of leaders is like. I'm thankful for Michelle Devoe and that she was willing to hear more about Young Life and dream about what it could be in HSE. I'm so thankful for the hundreds of ways that God has used YL in my life and the lives of people around me. And the best part is that he's not done yet. We really are part of a revolution.
We packed up and said good-bye to friends. I loved getting to hang out with Claire Neterer, Mary Ellen and Jenna, Allison and Abby, Matt and Tony, Audrey, Katie and so many other friends this weekend. It was only 24 hours but it was packed full of the best kinds of things.
We road tripped back home together stopping for lunch at Wendy's on the way. We started planning this week's Wyld Life Club and thinking about how we could put things from this weekend into action. I'm thankful that we get to keep doing all of this together. The 11 of us got to share something awesome and now we get to go spread that to the rest of our leadership team and the hundreds of kids that we get the gift of knowing. It's a revolution.