Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 In Review

The year started with a Young Life Winter Weekend trip up to Timberwolf Lake. We were so excited about the crew of leaders and kids on the trip and couldn't wait for three days at one of our favorite places. I was leading a cabin of Juniors, Sophomores and Freshmen with Hannah and we were so excited for cabin times and other memories. 

Unfortunately a huge winter storm was on it's way and we had to tell our whole team that we had to leave early. Not even there for 24 hours, we had to pack up all our stuff and head out. We weren't really happy about having to leave so quickly but it was definitely a trip we won't forget. Nothing like a slumber party at YL camp.

We were incredibly hyper on the bus ride home, even having fun at a truck stop on the way. We didn't want our time together to end so our cabin had a sleepover at Julia's house when we got back.

That massive storm did roll in and I got snowed in at the Dewolf's house for a week. Instead of returning home to a power-less and empty apartment, I got to hang out with this awesome family instead. We threw boiling water into the cold to make instant snow and tried shooting it out of a water gun. 

Julia and I made a billion friendship bracelets and watched movies all day long every day. We got the fam to make Big Cookie one night (just like YL Camp), slept in late, ate pancakes for breakfast and hung out with the snow day friends. 

I got to go to the Vigren's Ice Party when Geist froze over and we played ice hockey and skated around the lake. Sisters Demi, Hope and Cecilia are one of my favorite sibling trios. 

The weekend before my birthday I had one of the best surprises ever. Wyld Life Club was a surprise birthday party for me! KCraig and the other leaders went out of their way to plan a whole night of fun and games all based of me and my favorite things. I felt so very loved. 

I'm so glad that freshmen Olivia and Julia got to be there along with so many of my favorite 7th grade girls. It was an awesome night. 

My actual birthday was full of surprises too. Julia and Brooke showed up at my apartment with a bag of 27 balloons, collages, Birthday Pancakes, a huge birthday card and one of the coolest gifts ever. 

A group of 10 YL girls all pitched in and bought me the coolest Patagonia ever that I had been dreaming of. I was shocked and every time I wear it I think of them. I spent the rest of the day with Brooke and Julia at church, climbing snow mountains, visiting a park, eating favorite foods and hanging out. 

I chaperoned the 8th grade field trip to Washington DC again and got stranded in the airport with Mr. Hodgin and 22 kids for a whole day. All our flights got cancelled and we didn't know if we'd ever get there. Luckily we met Instagram/Vine famous Matt Espinosa while we were stuck there and all the girls freaked out. Eventually we flew to Philly, got on a bus and drove to DC and finally got to the hotel where the rest of HSJH was already asleep. 

Then we had two more days in DC exploring the monuments and museums of the city. This weekend has become one of my favorite traditions with HSJH.

HSE YL went to the Pacers game for the All City Club with every other YL area in Indy. Hundreds of us had Club together on the practice court and then watched the game together.

FBC continued to meet after school on Thursdays with the most talented crew of friendship bracelet making children I've ever known. These girls are phenomenal at looking up patterns and figuring out complicated designs. They've taken FBC to a whole new level.

Monday nights at YL are one of the best parts of the week whether it's Campaigners or Club.

I spent most of the year hanging out with Freshmen girls that never fail to inspire, question, freak out, dig deep, get off task, laugh uncontrollably and be genuine. Being a leader is one of my very favorite things.

One of my favorite nights of the year was the YL Dance Party Club. We already knew that it was going to be a blast, but then during leadership right before the kids arrived we got news that school was cancelled for the next day. Suddenly even more kids were on their way because they no longer had to worry about homework. Every one was beyond hyper the whole night, especially in the middle of dancing when we discovered that Cathedral cancelled too. 

Wyld Life leaders hung out late that night and then Julia, Brooke and I had another snow day sleepover and made tutus and friendship bracelets the next day. 

Abby Miller and I made a road trip to hear Donald Miller speak at the same church where Bob Goff was last year.

National Friendship Bracelet Day rolled around in March for year five. Erin, Shelby, Hope, Natty and I randomly were sporting all five years of the sweatshirts.

I loved seeing my girls celebrate all day long and post FBC pics to try to win a bracelet for the most creative pictures and caption of the day.

The Divergent premiere was pretty fantastic and full of anticipation with a whole crowd of book lovers that showed up early and filled the theatre. I loved getting excited with Lulu, Audrey, Soph, Elyse, Julia, Hope, Katy, Courtney, Rachel, Grace and Ci as we discussed which faction we would all be in.

KCraig spent the year raising money to build a library in Lebu, a village in Africa that she's connected to. She invited YL friends to be a part of an event called Love For Lebu, Crafts For A Cause. 

All sorts of girls crafted and made and knotted and baked and decopauged cool creations to sell on one afternoon. I love being part of a community that will rally around something this important and impactful.

There were more YL and Wyld Life Clubs. These nights make me so thankful for community, adventure, fun, life to the full and people that point one another back to Christ.

And who doesn't love a good Cat Club?

I love any excuse to dress up at school and always participate in every theme day from Would You Be My Friend If I Wore This, Spring Break Party and Wolf Shirt Wednesday.

I had lunch duty every day during C lunch and basically walked around and talked to kids. A table of 8th grade guys became the Lunch Crew and it was a daily routine to have them run into my classroom to say hi one more time before they headed back to class. It was a great day when all the guys of the Lunch Crew got friendship bracelets. 

Sarah Battaglia and I had a Texas adventure at the start of my Spring Break and flew to a conference called Hope Spoken. It was a gathering of Christian women-- mostly bloggers, wives and mothers so we kind of fit in. The main attraction was getting to hear Shauna Niequist speak. We got to listen to a lot of other really awesome people too and become friends with women like Libby Ryder and Jen Brzinski.

I finally made it to Drake in Iowa to visit my great friend Sarah Mooney before she graduated. I got to hang out and live her normal life for a couple days. After being CILT counselors together last summer we were so happy to be back together.

Almost every Wednesday I met up with Hope, Katy, Rachel and Alex at El Rodeo for chips and salsa, talks about God and writing Top 10 Lists. I'm so thankful for these girls that pursue a friendship with me and that are just beautiful examples of the best versions of themselves.

Once warmer weather showed up I formed a Bike Brigade with YL girls that live in nearby neighborhoods. We find a meeting spot and then all ride around through Grey Eagle. Nothing beats a good bike gang.

KCraig and I got to storm Prom pictures of several different YL kids. We fit right in to the crowds of parents snapping pictures.

I continued leading two different 7th grade bible studies of girls on Friday mornings. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to meet with Junior High girls like this. I hope that all of our time together is helping them build a foundation of faith and giving them the opportunity to ask questions and think about their relationship with God in a new way.

BOB GOFF CAME TO TOWN! Of course we invited the whole HSE Young Life crew to come hear him speak at a church in Indy. After so many different groups of kids have read his book Love Does in the last few years it wasn't too hard to get a crowd of our people there.

Bob is a phenomenal speaker and an even more amazing guy. He took approximately 5,000 pictures with all of us and kept saying, "This is great you guys! Let's take some more pictures!"

People from every area of my life were there that night-- Camp T counselors, old CILTs, Carmel YL people, the HSE crowd, Tecumseh campers and Hope people.

My dodgeball team for the school's annual competition was called Manifest Destiny (get it?) and we were ready to win.

But then we lost our very first game. 

I did the Color Run in Indy with Tecumseh and YL friends. Milly did it just for the pictures which I don't blame her for. I loved singing and cheering with the camp friends the whole way. 

I won't forget the last night of Campaigners of the semester when I got to sit and talk with a crew of girls that mean so much to me. Erin, Kaelyn, Morgan, Hannah, Natty, Katy, Hope, Olivia, Maddy, Julia and Haleigh are some of the main characters of my life and I can't imagine not doing this together.

After making friendship bracelets for the whole school year I ended up with a stockpile of 200 to take to Tecumseh for campers and counselors. It was a new record and I almost couldn't believe it myself.

And in a mass of 200 bracelets these ended up being my favorite 13.

I headed back to Tecumseh for another summer of living the dream with the CILTs (Campers In Leadership Training). This year the CILT Pack was led by Mike Jones, Sarah Mooney and Arielle Brosman. Do good. Have fun. CILT Pack. 

Staff training is always an eventful week and Mags and I led another counselor kidnapping during Nature Day.

I was so happy to be reunited with some of my best friends Maggie, Smoon, Arie and Ellyn for the summer.

A whole crew of incredible people were back at Tecumseh again-- Abby Bien, Claire, Anna, Liz, Alli, Erin, Arie and Jackie-- and they are my second family.

Ellyn and I lived in Choctaw for the second summer in a row and continued our streak of daily Sarah and Ellyn pics. There are new kids every week of the summer but there are always people I can't wait to see like the one and only Lilly Fair that I love so much.

Arielle, Smooney and I had all been CILT counselors together but never at the same time. It was such a blessing to see Arie and Smoon's friendship grow as we all led 30 girls each session.

A crew of HSE kids came to Tecumseh week 1 which was pretty spectacular. I had Catawba girls screaming, "MISS WRIGHT! MISS WRIGHT!" across Main Field and I went paddle boarding with my 7th grade boys during lake time.

We continued fun traditions like waking up CILT girls in the middle of the night for donuts.

Every day was an adventure with these three friends including things like secret rooms, adventures with Annabelle and best friend necklaces.

I loved seeing more old CILT girls become members of the Day Camp staff and experience a new side of camp. I miss being their counselor but love seeing them with their own kids.

I left during week 1 to go to Michindoh for Wyld Life Camp with HSE. We took an awesome crew of leaders (Todd, KCraig, Jackie, Abby, Brannt, Molly, Austin, Keith and Lori) and so many fantastic kids.

I led a cabin of 7th grade girls-- Cami, Riley, Kate, Lily, Elise, Maggie, Caitlyn, Amanda, Sophie, Meric and Jordan-- that I had gotten to know in the last year through class, bible study, FBC and Wyld Life.

It was an awesome week together and some of my favorite moments were the one on one conversations that I got to have with each of my girls.

We definitely didn't want to go home at the end of five days. I'm so excited that we get to keep being part of each other's lives back in Fishers and that we'll all go back to camp again next summer hopefully!

I made it back to Tecumseh and Session 1 to find that Mike had broken his collarbone in a bike accident and that Andy Balch would be joining us from Pathfinders for the rest of CILTs. We got to be part of the first ever All Tecumseh World Cup. CILTs served as refs and score keepers as 26 soccer games happened simultaneously. It was pretty awesome.

Most of my time at Tecumseh is focused on the CILTies and other campers, but my friendships with my best friends there are one of the most important things. The rest of the year we're spread all across the midwest but for these 10 weeks we get to see each other every day.

Session 1 ended too quickly with a crew of really fun, energetic and creative campers. I loved getting to be with so many Indy kids, girls like Devon and Olivia that I'd known forever and getting to know knew girls like Rachel, Maggie and Avery.

Each CILT session always visits a nearby nursing home and I was reunited with my pal Ruth that I always talk with each time we visit.

Arielle, Smoon and I initiated as many dance parties as possible all summer long.

Wolf Shirt Wednesdays continued.

I loved the days we got to eat lunch at Lake Village and I got to see my fav kids up there like Elle Fazzio, Lexie, Lilly Fair, Sophie, Hallie, Ava Baby and Devon the Georgia Peach.

We invented fun games like "Spit Water On Your Friends" and wore overalls as often as possible.

The Johnson and Happ twins helped Smoon and I realize that we were actually twins too.

Each CILT Session had a sleepout-- the Suspension Bridge, the 3-House Tree-House and inside Mt. Wood.

Session 2 kids were sweet and kind, all about spiritual conversations, creative and up for anything.

The CILT Jar included more fun things like Nerd Day, Glow In The Dark Breakfast, Midnight Chapel and an Easter Egg Hunt.

We got to go on RFAJWD three times. What happens at RFAJWD stays at RFAJWD.

Morning hikes to the Gish Adventure Outpost were some of my favorites each session. A Session 3 girls said, "Oh, is that when you hike to the top of that hill and then take a ton of pictures?" Yep, that's exactly it.

4th of July week brought red, white and blue outfits, fireworks and lots of 'Merica pride. 

We hated saying goodbye to Session 2 friends that we had gotten so close to. The end of Session 2 also meant there was only two more weeks of CILTs.

Session 3 is always an invitation for the CILT counselors to go out with a bang doing things like jumping into the pool with our clothes on during swim checks.

We wore matching outfits and instantly started making friends with campers like Kelly and Erin.

There were mud facials in the shallow end at Lake time.

I laughed a lot with girls like Gaby, Shannon and Lucy and always looked forward to hanging out with them all in Choctaw before devotions.

We made best friend necklaces when we couldn't find any good ones at Wal-Mart. These beaded beauties became one of my favorite accessories of the whole year.

I loved being reunited with little Sarah and old Choctaw campers Tanner and Jillian who all love camp with every bit of their little bodies.

Our girls initiated overall day and participated in the craziest secret tour of River Village I've ever been a part of.

We often say that being a counselor at Tecumseh is "Living the dream," and it's the absolute truth. So much of what I've learned about people, faith and life I've learned right here. I know of no place filled with more fun, love and joy than this one.

Ellyn became the Buffalo Queen and as the Buffalo Queen and CAC Queen she ruled Camp T. There is no person that makes more friends every week at Tecumseh than this girl.

The last week of CILTs was also our last week with Smooney so there was lots of hugging, heart to hearts and more fun.

The end of CILTs is one of my least favorite things every year. It's such a sad thing because even though I'm still at camp, it's a completely different experience and I miss our kids and traditions and routines. Thankfully, I know that the end of CILTs never means the end of friendships with these people.

Week 7 at Tecumseh Arielle, Ellyn and I were Blazer counselors in Choctaw together. Wylie returned to the Riv and I was so excited to hang out with Hadley Hendricks for two clinics every day.

Molly and I taught FAB (Fearless Advanced Braceleters) together and Country Line Dancing. I met Kylie, Hadley's friend, and the three of us hung out all week.

The Welch extended family was all over Tecumseh this week-- these girls have been here forever and seeing them is like seeing old family.

Our crew of Choctaw girls were hyper, mildly-crazy, quirky, fun and energetic. It was an unforgettable week.

Katie, Nick, Linc, Red and Dad came to Tecumseh on Friday night and Lincoln got to come sit on the bench with me at Closing Campfire.

I came back to Fishers for one night and reunited with Grace, Katy P and Abby for a fiesta at El Rodeo an surprising the Vigren family with ice cream when they returned home from their vacation.

Then HSE Young Life loaded up the busses and headed to Georgia to Sharp Top Cove.  I was a leader for freshmen girls Erin, Brooke, Alli Sams, Genna, Kaelyn, Kara, Samantha, Anne and Julia. 

We stayed in easily the smallest cabin I've ever seen. Brooke, Julia and I slept on the floor each night and stacked our mattresses on top of Kara's bunk during the day. We shared two showers and two toilets with a total of 35 girls. It was insane and something we'll never forget.

This was our third summer of YL Camp Trips with HSE which is pretty unbelievable. It was a dream to go to Timberwolf with Haleigh and her friends the very first year and now it's just something we do.

The week was filled with lots of spirit and crazy cat shirts. HSE tends to win everything at YL Camp so that's pretty fun.

I was just so happy to spend a week with this group of girls. I've known them since they were all in 7th grade and our adventures, cabin time talks, meals around the same table, afternoon hang outs and one on ones were the best parts of the week. And hiking the mountain, that was awesome too.

Carmel YL was at Sharp Top at the same time which was lucky for me since I used to lead Carmel YL. Getting to hang out with people like Hannah Blachly, Claire Neterer and Darian Dunn all at the same time was pretty spectacular.

There were no flash floods or power outages at Sharp Top this summer, and we didn't want to leave at the end of our week. When Tecumseh ends everyone heads back home, but with YL we all get to go home together. I wonder where we'll end up next summer.

I made it back to Tecumseh for one more week of living the dream. Arielle, Ellyn and I had Blazers in Choctaw for one more week and there were so many Blazer girls that I was excited to reunite with. Erin Dickett was in my cabin last summer and was in my clinics this year.

Erin Williams was with me two summers ago and we've been pen pals ever since. We made sure to hang out all week. Mary Cate was with me in Choctaw this week and two of my clinics. She's one of those kids that I know will grow up to be an incredible counselor here.

I got to hang out with some pretty awesome Blazer homies all week like Meg, Erin, Celia, Daisy, Erin, Ella, Sally and Lauren.

We're told over and over again that our job is to "Love those kids" and it's taught me more about life and what's really important than anything else.

The summer came to an end far too quickly to say the least. I'm never ready for that last night even though Ellyn says, "We could wake up tomorrow and it could be week 1 again. You never know, it could happen!"

We officially ended the summer with the staff banquet, best friend necklaces with our dresses of course. #CILTPackforever

The very next day I was back in Fishers for the 3rd Annual YL Amazing Race. It's hard to leave camp but easier when you're immediately reunited with your whole YL Family. Everyone was suddenly a grade older so my Wyld Life girls were now 8th grade homes and my YL girls were now sophomores.

Our team of YL leaders continues to grow each semester as old friends keep coming back to serve again. These people love Jesus and love kids-- my favorite combination.

We didn't wait long before having our first YL cabin reunion. The girls were thrown back into school, soccer and volleyball practices.

The beginning of the year meant all sorts of reunions. CILT girls in Indy...

the YL family out at the barn...

visits to see Camp girls in Chicago...

CILTies in the city...

8th grade homies from Wyld Life and FBC...

hang outs with Hope, Abby, Grace and Katy...

Senior YL girls and new friends too.

After her 3rd concussion, Katy, Hope and I roadtripped to the Dewolf's lake house to surprise Julia one Friday night.

I got to celebrate Alex and Rachel's wedding with the Camp T family.

When Avery flew in from Texas there were more CILT girl reunions.

We spent a night at Campaigners writing and sharing Cardboard Testimonies which was one of the most moving experiences of the year. A handful of kids and leaders shared theirs again at the YL banquet the next week.

FBC started year number 6 of meeting on Thursdays after school, now with a team of advanced 8th graders.

We created a Varisty Friendship Bracelet Team after friends and I had joked about if friendship bracelet making was a sport. We invited the best friendship bracelet makers we knew from HSE and all across the country to join the team. The day we all got our Varsity shirts was pretty exciting.

Julia, Hope and Katy even came over from the HS to make an appearance at FBC that afternoon. If we were a team they'd be on the starting line up.

I drove up to Michigan for Lincoln and Redford's birthday party (3rd and 1st). I love these little boys and look forward to any time I get to spend with them and the rest of my family.

Their birthday always falls on the pull so it's a tradition to go check out Odd and Even Year at the pits.

I became one of the three directors for the 7th grade field trip to Camp T in October. I always look forward to this week of being back at my favorite place with my students, the teachers and a crew of HS counselors.

I loved getting to hang out with Hannah, Mer, Sydney, Lucy, Grace and Emily in my favorite place. We got KCraig to come as a chaperone too which was pretty awesome.

The HS counselors are one of my favorite parts of the whole trip--they're old students and current YL kids and I love getting to see them with their campers and just hang out together whether it's during Capture the Flag or pizza parties at night.

Julia and a couple other sophomores were counselors for the first time, Keith let me hold a snake and the Just Dance Competition was the funniest thing to watch every night.

Two years ago I remember being thrilled that we had four YL kids as counselors. We sure have grown that fam since then. I wonder how many we'll have next year. 

I went to quite a few football games to hang out with YL kids in the student section like Julia and Cassidy.

I've spent most of the semester hanging out with Seniors and Sophomores so we've become SSS at Campaigners and on Chick Flick Sundays at my apartment.

HSE Junior High got the national award of being a Blue Ribbon School (we were the only middle school in Indiana to get the award) and one of the ways we celebrated was a Blue Out Day at school.

YL hosted a Barn Party with the return of the Haunted Trail and additions of carnival games, a cookout and all-family Club.

I continued to make a whole lot of bracelets... all day, every day... It's a mild addiction.

Wyld Life started having Campaigners every other week at Mama Bear's Cafe. I've gotten to know new 7th graders like Sarah and Grace that I adore. KCraig left teaching to go on Young Life staff this year and has done a phenomenal job of running and building Wyld Life for our area.

Sarah and I had a quilting weekend at my parents' house in Michigan and busted out two matching friendship quilts in just three days.

I missed a couple days of school to go to the Storyline Conference in Chicago with Ben Battaglia at Mars Hill. We got to see Glennon Doyle Melton, Shauna Niequist, Bob Goff and Donald Miller all speak at the same time. My heart and mind almost exploded from the sheer awesomeness of it all. I couldn't write fast enough to jot down every single one of their words but I did my best.

I got to give friendship bracelets to Glennon (and her sister) and Shauna, a dream come true. They both wore their bracelets on day 2 of the conference and on stage while they spoke. #lifemade

A trip to Chicago wouldn't be complete without visiting CILTies in the city like Brenna, Shannon, Gaby, Erin, Kelly and Maggie.

Our area took adult leaders and some of our HS leaders to the Summit at Michindoh for all the YL leaders from IN and KY. The overnight conference was full of speakers, Club and plenty of time to hang out with friends from all different areas.

Getting to hang out with women like Ricki, Claire, KCraig, Hannah, MaryEllen, Abby and Jenna all at once was like witnessing a solar eclipse. 

Over my mom's birthday weekend I traveled to NH with her, my sister Katie, Linc and Red to visit my Grandma in Hanover.

We've been coming here since I was as little as Lincoln and we always look forward to dinners in the dining room, pizza at Lui Luis, walking down to ping pong and breakfast in Grandma's apartment.

The Devoe's built an enormous and incredible barn on their property on the outskirts of Fishers that has become the home base for all things Young Life. I spend every Monday night here with the YL fam. I get to be in a small group of Sophomores and Seniors in the Cubby Room each week and the conversations we have together are some of my favorites.

I love hanging out with my 8th grade girls whether that's crafting on the weekend, braceleting in FBC, bible study before school on Fridays, showing up at cross country races or going to dinner.

I spent Thanksgiving in MI with the family. Lincoln finally jumped on the friendship bracelet band wagon with me and is still proudly wearing it over a month later. Red is crawling and climbing all over the place and we're anxiously awaiting him to start walking.

The Under the Sea Wyld Life Club was one of my favorites. The whole night was so much fun and we announced that this summer Wyld Life will go to Castaway in MN. Then the whole camp trip filled up in less than 24 hours. I'm so hype to go with a new crew of kids.

We celebrated another year of YL with our leaders and committee families right before Christmas. I'm so thankful to be part of a community of adults that believes in this mission of sharing Christ with the kids of Fishers.

In the middle of December the new shipment of Friendship Bracelet Club sweatshirts arrived for 175 of our closest friends. The sweatshirts go to students my school, some YL kids, a ton of CILTs and then friendship bracelet makers all over the country.

Another favorite Wyld Life Club of the year was High School Musical Club right before Christmas. After that night I'm convinced that HSM songs should be on the playlist for every event ever. Club hadn't even officially begun and there was already a full on dance party of boys and girls singing their hearts out all over the gym.

I created a Friendship Bracelet Christmas Tree Hat for the annual teacher hat contest on the last day of school. FBC pictures as ornaments, our new sweatshirt design as the star on top and lights like a real tree.

I met my goal of finishing 200 bracelets for the Tecumseh stockpile by Dec 18th. Now I'll make bracelets just for HSE and YL people all of next semester.

My favorite 25 hours of the year is always the CILT Reunion that brings together all three sessions of kids and a collection of stellar counselors.

The Happs flew from CO and Avery flew from TX-- no one wants to miss the CILT Reunion.

I was just so happy to be back with the main characters of my summer and some of my favorite people in the world. The reunion is a whirlwind of games, love tanks, devotions, dance parties, chapel, new friends, games and fun.

We had small groups at this reunion. All 9 counselors had their own group of kids that met together to share mini-life stories and got to know each other on a different level than just playing games together. I'm a big fan of my crew.

I'm missing all of these people already and they're all asking for a second reunion in the Spring. Maybe we'll just have to make that happen.

My family returned to Crystal Mountain for Christmas week. We all stayed in a cabin together and this year got to teach Lincoln how to ski. I loved getting to hang out with my sister, walks with my mom, playing games with the family at night, Red's smile and hearing Linc yell "I'M A SKIER AND I AM BRAVE" as we rode down the mountain.

I'm looking forward to 2015 being full of even more whimsy, creativity, friends, Young Life, adventures, bracelets, Tecumseh, family, big dreams, Jesus, coffee, writing and fun.