Friday, February 7, 2014

Surprise Birthday Party Club!

7th grade girls are fun. Sometimes people think I'm crazy for teacher Junior High, maybe they're right, but if you got to know all of my students and Wyld Life kids you'd want to hang out with them too.

This morning we started early talking about the next chapters in Love Does. Julia is the expert summarizer and they all have great comments and ideas. Today we talked about putting out the real version of ourselves even if it means we might get damaged along the way. It's so hard in Junior High to not get caught up in being like everyone else, but my prayer is that these girls will be able to see how they're uniquely and beautifully made to be different.

Today is the start of my birthday weekend (my birthday's on Sunday) and a couple of the girls brought gifts this morning. They are always so thoughtful and kind. Julia and Sydney both brought me cupcakes which are my favorite birthday treat. They all gave me sweet notes and Maddy gave me a new friendship bracelet.

KCraig wanted to plan this Wyld Life Club all on her own because she's learning more about the process and wanted to give it a shot. The theme has been Surprise Club and when I showed up I discovered that the surprise was that it's my Miss Wright's Birthday Party Club!

Never in a million years would I have ever expected to have a whole birthday club just for me-- I felt so  celebrated, loved and appreciated right away. I felt so humbled to have this many people think about me and want to make tonight all about me. I know they put so much time and effort into pulling this off.

Natalie, Scotlyn and Julia all ran up to give me a hug right away-- they are precious. Cousins Natty and Maddy are rock stars and I'm so glad they were here to party with us tonight.

KCraig schemed to have Julia and I go to dinner before Club so that I would come to leader set up. We picked up Olivia and both freshmen girls got to come with me tonight. They were beyond pumped to come back to Wyld Life. I loved seeing all of my kids like Audrey and Elyse when I walked through the door.

We sang all Taylor Swift songs tonight because that's how I roll. We belted out all the words and danced in a massive crowd of our Wyld Life friends. Then they brought in dozens of balloons for us to pop. Some of the balloons had candy hidden inside.

There was a birthday cake for me for the next game. Trulock told me that they were trick candles and that if I blew on them hard enough they would light. Of course I thought that as soon as I started blowing on them she would shove the cake in my face or someone would sneak up behind me.

Thankfully there were no tricks, it was just funny to watch me try to light the candles that way. Four kids got to go bobbing for candy bars that were hidden inside the birthday cake.

The crowd cheered on their friends names as they got their faces covered in icing.

I think one of the very coolest parts of the night for me was when they pulled up a special video of pictures, videos and birthday messages from Young Life kids and leaders. If you really know me, you know that words of affirmation is one of my love languages, so reading and hearing messages from these people meant the world to me. There were some from kids in the room and others from YL girls that I haven't seen in a long time that blew me away. It was very, very special.

There is a prayer by Pedro Arrupe that has stuck with me, 

"What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything."

I'm in love with Jesus and adventure and working with Jr High and HS kids and Young Life and creating new things and Tecumseh and making sure that love does. Tonight was such affirmation that I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to and that the things I love are shaping my life.

The funniest game of the night may have been Tape the Friendship Bracelet On Miss Wright. They got one of the art teachers at the Jr High to create a giant Sarah to hang on the wall. Then kids were blindfolded and spun around before they tried to tape the bracelet on my arm.

After all the kids went they made me play once too. All the HS Wyld Life leaders got to spin me around a dozen times.

Not every day that you get to give yourself a friendship bracelet like this! Kocher gave the club talk tonight about image and who she felt like she was expected to be when she was growing up. She read from Ecclesiastes about their being a time for everything and how God wants us to experience so many different things and emotions. Instead of just following the status quo, we're invited to live life to the full of what he's called for us.

The last fifteen minutes was hilarious and it accounts for the next 21 pictures. We always take a lot of pictures at YL but tonight so many of the girls wanted one with me so that they could post it for my birthday in a couple days. It felt exactly like check out days at Tecumseh when campers all want to take a picture with the counselors in our blue staff polos.

Julia and Olivia were my paparazzi-- Julia took all the pictures on my camera and Olivia took the same picture on each girls' phone. So while I realize the next chunk of pictures may look exactly the same to you if you don't know these kids, they all actually make me so happy. Every one of these girls has a story that I could tell you. They're funny and cute and bold and hyper and real and weird and spunky and making the world around them more awesome.

The dress code for tonight was to wear FUN things. Tu tus most definitely fit into that category. Julia and I were happy to find Elise, Maggie and Soph wearing tu tus too when we showed up.

I don't know if you can beat a picture that has tutus, YL leaders and kids, laughing friends and snapbacks. This is when you know.

 Tonight may have been a birthday party for me, but it's this whole team that made tonight awesome. I'm so incredibly thankful that I get to work at HSJH and Wyld Life with Kocher, KCraig and Trulock. Ryan is such an enthusiastic and passionate staff person. Our HS kids Mariah, Hayley, Natty, Maddy, Jacob, Chad and Max are fantastic. These leaders and all of these Jr High kids are my people. Tonight was amazing and I couldn't imagine a better start to the weekend.

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