I love Fridays. Not only is it the last day of the week but I've got multiple favorite Friday traditions. I start the morning early with a group of girls at bible study. Today we talked about two of my favorite verses, "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:1-2 and Romans 12:2, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."
The Pizza Bagel Posse came in to eat lunch with me in room 124. The first time the Pizza Bagels were burnt in the microwave. This time around they were still partially frozen with ice on top of a few of them. The girls ate all of them anyways.
Fall Creek Intermediate had Falcon-Thon, their Dance Marathon, after school today. A bunch of these 7th grade girls participated last year and wanted to go back. Jackie Renick, my friend and new YL leader, is the teacher in charge of Falcon-Thon so I wanted to support her. I loved being part of Dance Marathon at Hope as a dancer, moraler and two years on the Morale Committee. I loved learning the line dance, running around with these girls and singing in choir rows.
Tonight we celebrated with the last Wyld Life Club of the school year. We originally planned on having a paint war but had to change plans due to the bad weather. We still had an epic party inside and packed the gym. Brannt and Jacob tested a game before the kids arrived just to make sure it was entertaining enough.
The kids started rolling into the cul-de-sac and soon enough it felt like everyone was there. You can't help but be happy on a Friday night at Wyld Life with all of your friends.
If you're not around Junior High kids very often you may not know that white high top Converse sneakers are just as cool as black leggings. Just so you know...
We love welcoming in kids as they arrive and seeing all of our people.
In 4th period today we invited Olivia Willman to come tonight. Her sister comes to YL every single week and all of her friends have come but she's never attended. Elyse desperately wanted to play an upfront game tonight at Club so we made a deal. If Olivia came to Club then Elyse could play a game. Needless to say, Elyse and I freaked out and screamed when Olivia walked into the garage.
There was a little bit of rain going on but that didn't stop us from running around and playing as we waited for more folks to show up. Team Boy Squad was having a blast.
Mia Bruno, Mia Becker and Mia Mackenzie are all awesome and not just because their name is Mia. I'm so thankful for bible study girls like Maggie, Elyse and Laura that I've gotten to know so well this year. They are so sweet and fun and they make my world better.
We got a picture of some of my current students--Taila, Claire, Elyse, Victoria, Cassie, Mia, Caroline, Haevyn and Sophia. My kids rock. I love that I get to share this with them and that our lives can keep overlapping at Wyld Life.
Julia, Carly, Elise, Rachel and Sydney are all rock stars. I'm so excited that they're only 7th graders so that we can keep seeing each other all the time next school year. They're the kind of people that spread more awesome.
Don't you love when a group picture of three people just keeps growing as people jump in and it turns in to something like this? It's good because everyone is welcome here.
When I look back at all the pictures of Club so many of them are just of the people here, far more than pictures of the action. That's a reflection of what's important here. We want each kid to know that they are valuable and important and loved. We're doing this for them and because we want to keep pointing them back to Christ. I love getting to be part of this with kids like Kate and Scotlyn and all of their friends.
Tonight is not only our last time with the Junior High kids, but also our last time working alongside our HS Wyld Life leaders. I've loved getting to be with friends like Maddy, Natty and Maggie this year as they volunteer to help us at Clubs and love these kids. We'll be so sad to see our Seniors Maddy, Hayley and Mariah go but are so excited for whatever comes next for them.
When it was time to head inside we started things off with a bang playing Savage Women. First all the guys got together in a clump in the middle of the room. They held onto one another using their arms and legs so they were a big tangled blob. Then all at once all of the girls started pulling them apart one by one until each guy was pulled apart.
Then they switched roles--the girls all linked up and the guys pulled them apart. The game is so simple but it never gets old.
We played Team Keep Away, boys versus girls. Everyone had to stay sitting down and three consecutive passes scored a point for their team. Watching everyone screaming and trying to get the ball was hilarious.
I knew that Elyse and Zuber would play the upfront game but didn't know who else would join them. After a whole year of Clubs it's hard to remember who has or hasn't played a game by now. We ended up calling on every kid who was pointing at themselves and looking at me with those eyes that say, "PICK ME! PLEASE PICK ME!"
Then those kids who all so happily volunteered found a partner up front. Once the music started the pairs started clipping the clothespins on one another's faces. The partners with the most clothespins at the end would win.
We had friends pinning on one another and laughing/screaming/crying simultaneously.
Twins Lulu and Beau got to team up.
Friends Tanner and Zuber ended up winning with an impressive 18 clothespins.
There is just something about dance parties that just can't be explained. That's why we end weddings with dancing. When I used to live with Sarah Briggs she was always up for a good DP (dance party). On the finale of Grey's Anatomy this week Christina Yang and Meredith said good-bye by dancing it out. At Tecumseh we have a dance party during dinner every Friday night.
So of course we had to have one last epic dance party to finish out Wyld Life for the year. The play list ranged from N'Sync to Hannah Montana to One Direction and Taylor Swift. Everyone was singing along to every song.
Soon friends were on one another's shoulders, hula hoops and beach balls were flying around and a giant circle was forming.
At one point KCraig and I were dancing by each other and we both said, "IT FEELS LIKE WE'RE AT CAMP!" Matching the epicness of a YL Camp dance party during the year is quite the accomplishment.
There was a conga line that spanned the whole room and a ginormous dance circle.
Ryan played One Thing Remains for one last time. Our kids know this song and they belt it out. It's one of the coolest things to listen to a whole gym full of kids singing, "Your love never fails and never gives up. It never runs out on me."
KCraig shared the talk at the end of Club tonight. She told us about how she loves movies and how when she's really into it she feels like she is actually living in the world of that movie. "But," she said, "do you know who's real? Jesus." She told us about how Jesus came and lived among us. He went through things that we go through and he knows what that's like.
KCraig invited everyone to write a letter to God for the last few minutes while Ryan played. We told the kids that they could hold on to their prayer or they could give them back to us to read and pray over.
Reading the prayers of these 7th and 8th grade guys and girls was one of the very coolest things I have done in a very long time. It was such a privilege to read them and a window into what they're learning and thinking. God is very alive here. He is at work in these kids hearts and they want to know him more. They love him and want him to be part of their lives. They're praying for friends, for family members and one is even praying for the Pacers. They're not afraid to tell God that they're hurting or angry or thankful. These prayers are beautiful.
Just when they thought everything was over, the kids went upstairs to find a huge ice cream buffet in the garage. Everyone got ice cream and all the toppings they could imagine.
Tonight was a celebration for sure-- so much fun, so many friends and so much to be thankful for.
I'm so glad the Haevyn, Caroline and Claire all came for the first time tonight. I love that Hailey wanted to spend her birthday here. I love girls like Rachel, Brooke and Elyse that are all about taking opportunities to have fun and find adventure.
I'm thankful for girls like Mia, Cassie and Allison that keep showing up and making this their place. It's admirable the way they care about one another and make each other feel special.
I love that Sophie and Cassidy came together tonight and that they had a blast together. I love that Maddy, Kylie and Grace are both my students and Wyld Life girls and that we get to have fun here together.
"If smooth jazz was a picture it would look like this," said Garrett. Sam, Caden, Tanner, Henry and Garrett are the bomb and I'm so glad they're part of Wyld Life. From Sam's motions during worship songs to Henry's constant smile and Garrett's legacy.
Cecilia desperately wanted to have Gardening Club so she dressed up like a bee and I wore a floral hat. Looks like Gardening Club to me!
I love that Maddy Wilson has been such a big part of my world in Young Life all year and Tecumseh in the summer. She's a rock star and I can't believe she's graduating in just a few short weeks. I have no doubt that her creativity, heart, courage and integrity will continue to bloom wherever life takes her next.
We have had an incredible year of Wyld Life. When you gather this many kids in a gym I think it's so important for us to remember that everyone of their stories is unique and important. I was so touched by some of the things these kids wrote on Instagram after they left.
A girl who has been coming all year wrote, "Wyld Life was the best experience I have ever had. It was always something to look forward to. I will miss dancing and singing and crazy games and having the time of my life. Thanks to everyone who made it great. I'll see you all next year."
Another girl came for the very first time tonight. She'd written me a note earlier in the year saying that she was nervous about coming because she didn't think she'd fit in. I encouraged her to come and was so excited to see her show up with a friend. She wrote, "I was at the great dance party tonight and I can't wait to be at so many more."
We're here for every kid. The ones who feel totally comfortable here and the ones who are a little nervous. We're here for the Timmy Lee that steps out of his car and everyone shouts his name. For the ones who don't always get invited to do things. For Isaiah that yells "Amen!" at least ten times during the Club Talk. For the ones who have never heard of Jesus before. For Caroline and Claire who came together for the first time tonight. For Zuber who is known and loved by his HS leaders. For the ones who moved here this year and found a family at Wyld Life. We're here for every kid.