Sunday, August 31, 2014

So many of my favorite people in the world

Friday morning kicked off early morning bible studies for the semester. I'm back with 8th grade girls, the ones I worked with all last year. My classroom is filled with kids that I don't know very well yet, so it's nice jumping back into life with these girls that I have history and friendships with. I took Riley, Elise, Amanda and Caitlyn to school and then they helped me hang up FBC sings during SLT at the end of the day.

Tonight I got to hang out with some of my very favorite people-- Hope, Abby, Grace and Katy. They're Juniors and hilarious and some of the weirdest and most fun girls that you've ever met. I hang out with them pretty often but it's a rarity that we're all free at the same time. 

Tonight we brought along Grace's siblings Ava and Luke and Abby's brother Clay because both sisters had to baby sit. We ate 5 Guys together and then went to the movies to see When The Game Stands Tall. It's about the HS football team with the longest winning streak in history in the season that they lost a game. I think all 8 of us loved the movie and would recommend it to anyone.


Saturday I met up with my friends Colleen and Julia in Zionsville for lunch. This pair is the sweetest and being around them just makes me a better person.

We dropped Colleen off at home which meant that I got to see her little sister Annie. When Annie opened the door her jaw dropped open and then she just jumped on me. Camp reunions, especially the surprise ones, are the best.

We hung out at the Leonard's for a little while, even climbed one of their trees and saw the roosters, before we headed to Julia's. Julia is on the Varsity Friendship Braceleter team but she still wants to learn more patterns so this afternoon we had a friendship bracelet session. She's so attentive and positive, she picked it up right away. Then we started looking back through the pictures of her CILT session and didn't stop till we'd seen them all.

Saturday night I hung out with a small group of Wyld Life leaders at KCraig's house. We ate ice cream and brainstormed and laughed and I got to hear all about the YL training she just attended. Then we all car pooled to the movies to see If I Stay. I read the book awhile ago but it was a totally different experience to see the story told on the big screen. I knew what to expect so I liked it. As soon as I got home I started reading the sequel, "Where She Went," which I've been saving. Oh. My. Goodness. I almost can't handle it.

Sunday morning I went to church at Northview and luckily got to sit right next to Maddie Halkyard and her family. The sermon was all about Grief which was timely in regards to the events of this past week. It gave me some interesting new things to think about.

Sunday night I got to attend the wedding of my dear friend Allison Stamer and her husband Matt Williams. Allison and I met when I was one of her YL leaders her Senior year of HS. We've been close friends ever since and she's one of my favorite people in the world that has taught me so much about faith, life, adventure and friendship. She's phenomenal.

This evening I got to watch Allison and Matt share the vows they'd written and get married in front of all of their friends and family. It was beautiful and I'm so glad that I was there. I'm so excited that this is just the beginning for them and that they now get to start on this journey together.

The best parts of the reception were the cake balls, sitting with a full table of my old YL girls all grown up, dancing with Allison, Susan and Kenzie's dance moves, shaking it out with Taylor Porter and TSwift's new song, and sending Matt and Allison off in a tunnel of lit balloons at the end of the night. So much love.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"I did a midnight bagel call which is basically the equivalent of a midnight pizza call."

This semester new Wyld Life leaders are going through training to join our team of leading 7th and 8th graders. Part of that training includes a bi-weekly bible study of reading The Story together before school. Early this morning I met with Chloe, Hannah, Marie, Lauren, Audrey, Grace, Jacob, Brock, Chad, Natalie, Jenna, Alli, Haleigh and Kocher to talk about chapter and how Abraham and Issac and Sarah and so many other people lived by faith. I love that we're diving into this rich conversation together and growing our roots deeper.

Cross Country is my jam. My sister Katie and I both ran all through middle school and high school, even though we would have told you we hated it most of the time. Since I graduated I've still been a runner but I enjoy it a whole lot more now. It's also more fun to be cheering for kids like Elise, Audrey and Lulu too instead of being the one running in the race.

I go to my students' and Young Life kids' games, matches, meets and competitions all year long but my favorite sport to watch will always be cross country. I love that you get to be right next to the runners, as opposed to far away in the bleachers. I love that every single kid gets to play-- no starting line up, no substitutions, no time outs. I love that you're competing as a team and an individual. I love that it only lasts for as long as it takes you to run the course, no 2 hour games. Cross country rocks. 

One of the things we're encouraging our HS Wyld Life leaders to do this year is to show up at our Junior High sporting events. At our planning day we gave them all the times so that they can plug them into their calender. Today I got to hang out with Alli King and Haleigh Devoe on the course. I'm stoked that now when I go to events I'll not only see my Junior High kids but I'll also get to hang out with a couple HS leaders each time.

I took a hiatus from making bracelets over the summer because I'm too busy having fun, blogging and writing love tanks and parent letters to tie any knots. But now that I'm back in the swing of "real life" friendship bracelet season has officially started again. Here's my first batch of new bracelets featuring all my favorite color combinations as well as two mega bracelets that were a bit more time consuming. I'm excited for FBC to begin again next week with my returning 8th graders and a whole new crew of 7th grade girls.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"So if we're your homies, what are you? Can we call you homie G?"

Highs of the Day
1. No Pants Wednesday with Cami and Taylor Pozzebon
2. Making an 8th grade lap upstairs before 6th period
3. Planning out a build-your-own-pizza-bagel and friendship-bracelet-while-you-wait restaurant with Cecilia that we're going to call "FREE MONEY... just kidding"
4. Watching the JV Soccer Team play tonight and seeing so many past students and current YL kids
5. Hanging out with both Molly Henry and Taylor Porter at the same time
6. Running 4 miles even though it was so dang hot because it made it feel like summer
7. Talking with Kinsella and Shanztherapper and being friends even though they're so far away
8. Finishing Season 1 of "The Fosters" even though it was so depressing

Top 10 Things I'm Looking Forward To
1. Starting bible study with 8th grade girls Friday
2. Allison and Matt's wedding this weekend
3. Rachel and Alex's wedding next weekend
4. Going to NH to visit my grandma with my family
5. YL Fall Weekend at Timberwolf Lake
6. Quilting Weekend with Sar in MI
7. Linc and Red's joint birthday party
8. Going to XC meets and Volleyball matches all Fall
9. Camp Tecumseh Field Trip for a whole week
10. YL Regional Summit at Michindoh

Top 10 Things I Miss About Camp Today
1. The mornings when you get to the fruit bar fast enough to get a whole bowl of strawberries
2. Standing at the back of the Green Cathedral with Arie and Smoon and seeing the Day Camp counselors
3. Walking back from a night off and looking up at the stars over Main Field
4. How every year during Session 3 CILTs we're so sentimental and nostalgic because the CILTs chapter of summer is ending
5. Coming up with a CILT counselor cheer during staff training that rocks
6. Spotting CILTs during Closing Campfire with their adopted campers their first week
7. How friendships get deeper during the stayover weekend
8. Finishing a CILT PL and feeling like I really articulated why that girl is awesome
9. The almost-magical transformation from strangers to best friends in just a few days
10. Pretending that Smoon and I are building the new boat house at the Richard G

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"True friendship is a sacred, important thing, and it happens when we drop down into that deeper level of who we are, when we cross over into the broken, fragile parts of ourselves."

Today was... interesting.

Today had a lot of great parts.

I got to hang out with Brooke and go to Steak n' Shake (our favorite tradition). She's one of my favorite people to spend time with and I'm so thankful for her and her heart and honesty and laughter. We showed up at the 8th grade volleyball game and cheered on my girls from the stands. I love seeing all of them play and work together as a team. The student section was also hilarious to watch tonight.

Today was also really hard.

Early this afternoon I got a text from a YL girl telling me that a Senior at Cathedral had taken his own life this morning. I didn't know him, but I soon found out that he was well loved by everyone and a good friend of HSE and Cathedral students. My heart is so sad for these kids. I hate seeing people I care about so sad, confused, angry, shocked and upset. It's hard to come up with the words to say on a day like today.

Tonight a group of Cathedral and HSE students met out at the barn with a group of YL leaders. We talked about their friend, about what they went through today, about how this is affecting them, about what they would say to him, about how they want to help one another. It was good.  It didn't fix anything, but it was good. Tomorrow will still be hard-- and the days after that. But their friend will not be forgotten.
I want my friends to know that they are so incredibly loved. Their lives matter. They are not here on accident. God loves every single one of us beyond measure. We get the joy and responsibility of reminding each other of that love. We get to show up, check in, and take care of each other. We are not alone.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The best Monday that you ever did see

Friendship Bracelet Club hasn't officially started yet, but I was missing seeing my 8th grade crew for longer than .5 seconds in the hallway. This afternoon I invited the girls in both of my 8th grade bible studies to stay after to help make FBC posters and then to just hang out together.

A bunch of them had cross country and volleyball practice, but we still had an awesome turn out. I love getting to laugh and sing and tie knots with these homies. They're some of the very best. I may still teach 7th grade this year, but I'm excited to loop with this group of girls for bible study and Wyld Life. Here's to another year of adventures and living the dream together.

We're already talking about FBC shirts for this year and dreaming about what they'll look like even though we won't order them for awhile. What if this year FBC stood for something other than Friendship Bracelet Club like...

Four Bad Cats
Frolicking Bears Collide
Fine, But Crazy
Fists Break Clavicles
Fierce Baby Catchers
Fridays Be Cool
Friends Bring Cats
Fresh Baked Cupcakes
Friends Because Cookies
Funny Bunny Carrots
French Baby Carrier
Family Because Camp
Fat Baby Cheeks
Funky Bear Cardigans
Fairly Borderline Crazy

Which FBC would you want to join?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have a very important announcement. TAYLOR PORTER IS BACK IN TOWN! She's my homegirl from Carmel YL day one when she was a Senior in HS. Five years ago Taylor and I got to live life to the full together-- riding bikes all the way to monument circle, a mystery trip to Tecumseh, ski weekend at TWL, Campaigners every Monday in Narnia and the basement room, heart to hearts over dinner, epic dance parties, Wyld Life Clubs, Top 10 Ways We Saw God In Action and blades for life. She's one of my favorite people that I've ever met. I can't wait to hang out with her loads this year.

Instead of our regular Monday night Campaigners, Young Life had a Paint War at the park tonight. Julia showed up first and I was so excited to see her. I'm pumped for her to be a counselor for the Camp T field trip next month and I just love hanging out with her. I was surprised and so happy when I saw Sam, Kylie and Chad all come tonight. These three are Seniors now but they were in my very first class of 7th graders when I started teaching in Fishers. I run into Sam and Kylie a lot but I love when they come to YL. 

There were so many freshmen at Club tonight-- I hadn't seen Johnny Miller or Andrew Myers since the last day of last school year and I was so happy that they showed up.

We had an army of HS kids and leaders ready to have a blast and annihilate one another with paint. The throwing of the paint would come soon enough, but first we would have club.

Jackie and I love these freshmen girls-- Mary, Liz, Linnea, Emma and Mallory. They're so goofy and fun together.

I love that I've already gotten to see Haleigh Devoe so much this year. She's one of the original YL kids and in so many of my memories of Club, Campaigners, Camp and living life together. I'm thrilled that she's a Wyld Life leader this year.

We played Conga Line Rock Paper Scissors with everyone in the field. The teams grew slowly until the final two people faced off to find the ultimate winner.

Next every grade became a team to spell out HSE YOUNG LIFE one letter a time. Every kid had to be part of every letter. I loved seeing them all run around and dive onto the ground to make the shapes as quickly as possible.

The Juniors spelled out all the letters at once together.

The Seniors were the fastest and so amped about singing, "I BELIEVE THAT WE JUST WON" that they couldn't pose for a picture.

The Sophomores were so quick and just barely got second to the Seniors.

The Freshmen had the most people on their team, which makes things difficult, and they still did an awesome job working quickly together.

I wasn't sure how the next game would work out but ended up being incredibly messy and perfect. There were five rows all lined up facing the first person. They passed a bag of flour (that had huge holes poked in it) back over everyone's head. The last person had to crawl through everyone's legs with the bag of flour.

They had to complete that pattern of passing back the flour and then having someone crawl forward three times. As you can imagine, everyone got sufficiently covered in flour pretty quickly.

It's so exciting that there are so many Seniors involved with Young Life this year. Last year we got to hang out with Mariah, Hayley and Sherisa and we'll miss them so much. This new crew is a whole lot bigger. Tonight I was so excited that Peyton, Devin, Kylie, Hannah, Sam and Madison all came. I'm excited to hang out with them this year.

We called up about 8 guys and 8 girls to compete in the next relay. Someone from each team put on a shirt, ran across the field to a bucket. They dipped their shirt in the bucket of paint, put it back on and ran back to their team. Slowly the shirts got more and more covered in paint which left each competitor more and more covered in paint too.

KCraig gave the Club Talk tonight and I was totally entranced with her story. I love that KCraig is real. She tells it like it is and her honesty makes kids love her. She told us about how growing up she only occasionally went to church on holidays like Easter and Christmas but that was it. She thought she had her life together and that everything was fine.

In college she met a friend named Alex who had a significant impact on her. One day he started talking to her about Jesus and he talked about him like it was someone that he loved, someone that he had a relationship with. That was totally new to KCraig.

Her conversations with Alex pushed her to start her own relationship with Jesus and to find out more about this person that had come for her. She wasn't perfect and she said she'd been really close minded about the whole faith thing. But now she was seeing there was a different way.

Tonight KCraig told us the story about the woman at the well. Jesus went to her and met her in all her imperfections. He knew that her life was a mess, but he offered her living water anyways. He offers each of us the same thing. Where ever we are in our life, Christ is here for us. He wants to show us that there is something different, something that gives us life instead of draining us of life.

I'm so thankful for YL in HSE because we've been able to share this life-giving life with so many kids. In the past couple years I've seen dozens of HS and Junior High kids grow tremendously in their faith. It's not just something that they know about anymore, but something that impacts the way that they live their life every day. It's changing the way the see the world and the way they treat people around them. They're questioning where they find value and purpose. It's the coolest thing to witness.

Then it was time for the PAINT WAR!!! The field was scattered with 300 bags of paint. Everyone was raced to grab the bags and then fling paint on all of their friends. I tried to scoop up a handful of bags before I started attacking all of my Young Life kids around me.

There is something so incredibly fun and liberating about chucking paint at people and just being messy. I love it every single time. I love that kids lose their "I need to look a certain way" mentality and just go for it. Suddenly they're like little kids again and they can't stop smiling.

The park where we have the Paint War borders a neighborhood. We noticed that an elderly couple and rolled out their wheelchairs to the top of the hill to watch all of us running around. It might have been the most exciting thing they'd seen on Monday night in awhile.

Wyld Life had their Paint War on Saturday in the rain and still had a blast. We ended up having great weather tonight and the storms held off. This was an awesome first YL Club of the year.

There are few things I love more during the school year than hanging out with my Young Life friends. Nights like tonight are my favorite and I'm so glad that so many of my favorite kids were here.