Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"I think that child is my spirit animal." "Oh my gosh she totally is. Want me to go get her picture?" "Now don't go making a scene."

It's a spirit week at HSJH-- this time we're raising money for Leukemia and Lymphoma research. My low of the day yesterday was that I had forgotten all about it and didn't wear a college tshirt. So I made up for it today on Tie Dye Day and matched with Maddie from head to toe. 

I can always count on 8th graders Taylor and Julia to do the theme days too-- they're rock stars.

Today Sarah and Jordan were two of the sevies dressed up along with so many more fun kids and teachers. Mr. Brown told me it was a struggle for him to wear tie dye today but I think it's one of my favorite colors.

Highs of the Day:
1. Hiding under Trulock's desk for Teacher Pranks Part 2
2. A Wendy's dinner with Connor and Jess, KCraig, Steve and Jesse
3. An ice-cream date with Liz Huston

Monday, March 30, 2015

"My high is that I raised my F to a D. I'm actually really good at math. I just like to rebel against my teachers."

For times a year Camp Tecumseh releases the Tecumseh Tales, a newsletter meets magazines of pictures, stories, interviews, updates and a magical mix of summer camp nostalgia. I love when I see the link in my inbox and read it right away. Mike Lang, the editor in chief, always does a phenomenal job of putting it all together. You can read the whole thing here. Today I really loved an essay by Joel, our summer camp director, about our exceptional staff that made me really proud to work at Tecumseh.  Here is just a bit of what he wrote...

"What makes Tecumseh counselors different? How can we say that our staff is the best?.. I would refer to the comments we get from campers and parents throughout the year, parents who say their kids dream of being like their counselor Sarah when they get older, or kids who ask their parents to buy the same shampoo as Emerson so they can be just like him. I’d refer to parents who call me in tears because of the way that their child has “magically” transformed into a better version of himself after just one week at camp. I’d also refer to what happens during the 51 weeks that our campers aren’t sharing a cabin with their counselors—when campers and counselors exchange weekly letters (yes, real letters, not emails or texts!) to keep in touch, when counselors coordinate with a camper’s parent to show up at a recital or sporting event, or when a camper is having a rough time at school and the first person they turn to for help is their Camp Tecumseh counselor. 

Tecumseh counselors are the best because these college students would rather spend their time at a 7th grade basketball game rooting on their campers than going out. Tecumseh counselors are the best because they would rather spend their last weekend of their Christmas break back at camp for a CILT reunion or a winter planning session than crashed on the couch watching Netflix. A lot of camps have counselors who are dedicated to their camp for the summer. Tecumseh has counselors who are dedicated to their camp for life. Tecumseh has the best counselors because 90 years of experience tells us, from those first 10 campers who came from the tiny town of Brookston in 1924, to the thousands of campers who now come from all over, that our staff members change lives. Not just here, but all over the world."

In honor of J (aka my camp boss Joel) and only 60 days still summer camp staff training, here is a painting inspired by his favorite phrase. I also posted it to Instagram and he commented, "I would hang this in my office. Then when appropriate I would just point at this sign."

Since it's Monday it's only fitting and predictable that we would have a little ode to Young Life...

I love sitting around a table with adults that love kids and love Jesus. I love that we're a mixture of old and new friends that know what makes each other's hearts tick from our friendships to our hatred of Reba. These leaders give up hours of their week to meet kids where they are, but the more we dive into this ministry the less that it feels like work and the more that it looks like joy.

I love the family of kids that show up here each week. My hope and prayer is that every single one of them will always know that they are loved, welcomed and accepted here. We're different and alike at the same time. That's confusing to people on the outside-- they don't get how everyone could belong, how these unlikely friendships could be formed.

I love that this is space we create together on Monday nights is a safe and holy one. Sometimes we talk about how Tecumseh is holy ground, that God is protecting it and that he's undeniably present there. I think the same could be said about any time we meet together as a YL family for Campaigners or Club. Baggage can be checked at the door, acceptance is a given, there are no expectations except that you do you.

I love that for KCraig and I and so many other leaders, the kids we work with become something between our friends, little sisters, students, partners in crime and fellow adventurers. We do this thing called life together and realize that all of life is spiritual-- not just Sunday mornings or Monday nights. These friendships, these bonds, are some of the most valuable parts of our lives and we wouldn't trade them for anything.

I love that we're living lives of transformation. Only through God's grace and strength could the stories we've witnessed together have ever happened. I wonder if the Bible was written today if you would read stories about some of these people-- stories about our friends Chloe and Jackie and Jenna and Hannah. Their lives are stories that are such a beautiful novel of mistakes and triumphs, hope and blind faith, courage and fear, surprises and steady patience. I see God's love in each of them.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

"Look at me! I'm wearing popular people boots!"

What's better than Troy, Gabriella and Sharpay from High School Musical? Seeing your students play Troy, Gabriella and Sharpay.

Every Spring I look forward to HSJH's musical and Friday afternoon I got to watch their performance right after school. KCraig, Jesse, Jackie, Julia and I had seats right up front to see all the action. I loved watching Elyse and Hailey lead their skater and nerdy cliques. 

Tyler, Allison and Camdyn all did fantastic in the lead roles. We were blown away by Danny Tully who killed his part as they guy crushing on Sharpay.

Everyone loves the HSM movies so there's something really special about watching those songs come to life on stage right in front of you.

When the show was over I quickly found Elyse, Lulu, Tyler and Hailey so I could tell them they did a fantastic job. Every kid on stage did a great job singing their hearts out after practicing and rehearsing for so long.

I got to spend so much time with some HS girls that I really love this weekend. Hannah, Katie, Julia, Ciara, Sam and Ashley all spent time crafting, laughing, telling stories, making lists and just being friends.

Sarah Mooney found a new Chipotle 2-Minute Write this weekend that we love, "Community is our native state. You play hardest for a hometown crowd. You become your best self. You know joy. This not a guess, there is evidence. The scholars who study social well-being can put it on charts and graphs...The happiest people are the ones with the most community."  It's brilliant and seems so obvious doesn't it? We love Camp Tecumseh because of community. We love Young Life because of community. We need to connect, we need to be there for people, we need those authentic friendships. Engaging in community, building and cultivating relationships is such important and holy work.

Saturday night Ciara and I visited the HSE HS Dance Marathon. It's been going on for a few years now but this was my first time visiting. I loved DM during my 4 years at Hope and was always really involved. Tonight Ci and I got to run through the bounce house obstacle course, hula hoop with these girls, learn their line dance and see so many random great people. I talked with a couple teachers and decided that next year we've got to get the Junior High kids involved too.

Sunday morning I had the honor of going to see Audrey get confirmed at her church New Hope Presbyterian. I was lucky enough to hear Statements of Faith from Audrey, Katie and Olivia--all HSJH girls.

I'm so glad that Katy P made sure I would be here this morning because she knows how much Fudgie (that's Audrey) means to me.

Grace and Abby were both confirmation sponsors for the Junior High kids so they got to be part of the service this morning too. I'm such a fan of all of these kids and I was so happy to see them take this step of faith.

Sunday afternoon Hannah and I went on an adventure to the IMA (Indianapolis Museum of Art) downtown. I'd only been to the 100 Acre Woods (the land around the IMA) before to see the funky bones, from Fault In Our Stars, but had never been inside. I love that Hannah will be goofy and silly and weird with me. We did some "live art" right as we walked in.

I think this colorful wall is the most photographed part of the IMA because it's SO COOL. Don't you just love it? It reminds me of a kaleidoscope or a patchwork quilt or a pile of friendship bracelets.

Hope Spoken, a women's conference in Texas that I attended last year, has been going on all week and I've been following via Insta. Today Ashley Ann Campbell, one of the bloggers there said, "I'm thankful that life's greatest adventures don't have to be BIG, but they take place everyday when we open our eyes to see God working the extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary." Don't you love that? This weekend was chock full of so many extraordinary moments like that.

For amateur art connoisseurs like Hannah and me, there were still plenty of things that we really loved.

Beaded Indian boots that we would love to own...

Cool metal wall? A whole balcony of giant numbers. Hannah's lucky number is 7 and I love 3 because of the I'm 3rd motto at Tecumseh.

In an interactive kids room they had a ginormous version of a Lite Brite board. Do you remember those things? We left behind a YL sign for future museum goers.

Ethiopia love for KCraig, Lebu, Jesse G and a little bit of foreshadowing...

In a whole wall of dresses through history these are the two I would choose to wear.

Isn't it sweet how basically anything can be art? A wall full of hanging string-- art! Thousands of little army men holding up the floor-- art! Metallic foil paper rolled up until you can make giant balls out of it-- art!

Since we were already downtown Hannah insisted we go to Sub Zero on Mass Ave for ice-cream. People-- it was SO cool. You choose your cream and flavors and then they use liquid nitrogen to turn it into ice cream right in front of you. You can still choose mix-ins like at Cold Stone too. I think this new ice cream is a winner.

Today I tried Strawberry, Blueberry, Cake Batter with waffle cone pieces. Then on the way home Hannah and I spotted TECUMSEH STREET! You know we immediately pulled over and jumped out to take a picture.

I hope that your weekend was great and that you're ready for the new week ahead. I hope it's full of community and extraordinary moments in the ordinary. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

National FBC Day 2015

The best holiday of the year has arrived-- National Friendship Bracelet (Club) Day! Nearly six years ago after creating the FBC, I decided that we should also have a day to celebrate. So every year since we have had a day long celebration in March honoring earthquakes, diamonds, squares, three-braids, sharkteeth and all friendship bracelet patterns. FBC alumni across the country throw a party along with us. 

The day started off strong at HSJH. I was greeted right away by the enthusiastic of Olivia, Sarah, Sydney and Grace. They're avid braceleters and were all excited for the day. Now you may have noticed that my sweatshirt doesn't match the rest of them. I started the day off with the purple FBC sweatshirt from 2009, our very first year. 

Isn't it ironic that FBC has been around for 6 years and I teach 6 periods in a day? So today I changed my sweatshirt every single class so that I could wear all of the sweatshirts. I think everyone has a different favorite which is probably a good thing so we can spread the love around. 

Each passing period I'd tell Mr. Hodgin the girls that stood out from each sweatshirt's year of FBC-- girls like Sabrina Saba, Mikaela Hartman, Malena Bruno, Caitlin Jones, Victoria Vicory and Elise Ruby that span through the years.

Every year I make a big National Friendship Bracelet Day sign and have the girls sign it all day long. It's kind of a yearbook of sorts, a record of most of the girls at HSJH that celebrated today. Each sign is laminated and then hung up in my classroom.

I love that FBC has such a presence at HSHJ. I got to see girls like Reese in class, I say hi to Grace and Kim every time I go into the Teacher's Workroom and Grace, Sydney and Mer come visit me almost every passing period.

Olivia made me this awesome clay masterpiece in art class today. We're waiting for it to dry and then we'll paint it with bright colors and ask the art teachers to fire it for us.

Taylor stops by my room while she's an office aide to say what's up, I got to see Cecilia in the hall and then talked to Emily, Grace, Silvana, Mia and Hailey during lunch.

On my lap through the 8th grade hallway before 6th period I got to see Taylor, Audrey, Natalie, Maddy and Jules-- FBC IS EVERYWHERE IN THIS SCHOOL. I love it.

Finally school was over and we were released to go to FBC. On National FBC Day we always go out side to take a ton of pictures. Though the musical and track took several of our friends away from FBC this afternoon we still had a great turn out.

I love these 7th graders that have brought so much energy to FBC this year. Several of them will be at HSJH next year while I go to FCJH but they are more than welcome to come hang out with us every Thursday.

These 8th graders are ridiculous and awesome and I've loved spending the last two years with them. I'll be sad to have them go to HS only because that means I won't get to see them everyday anymore.

Cecilia and Maddie are kooky. Meredith is a gem and I'm thankful for her goofiness.

I love the major overlap between Wyld Life and FBC and how we're all part of each other's lives in so many ways. Natty B came over to play with us after she finished cadet teaching. Natty's been in FBC since Day 1 and is one of the few to have all 6 sweatshirts with me.

There's never a dull moment on FBC day, especially with Mia, Silvana, Maddie, Cecilia and Mer.

Natty, Julia and I overlap in more ways than probably any one else I know-- both were students in my class, proud members of the FBC, Wyld Life and Young Life kids, they've been to Quilt Camp, and they're both Tecumseh campers and CILTs with me. I love them both more than they know.

Sydney got braces today! She sent me a selfie from the dentist with her new brackets and one with that amazing huge plastic thing that keeps your teeth dry while they glue everything on. She's a rockstar. I think there's a good chance that one day Sydney will be like Natty and Julia, overlapping in all of those areas too.

Courtney and Erin came from the HS too and together we put on the whole evolution of FBC spirit wear. Starting in 2009 we went purple, gray, (not pictured: student leader v-neck), red, navy, Varsity frockets and pink. I wonder what next year will be!

I told the HS girls to walk around and see what all the 7th and 8th graders were working on. I'm telling you people, this is the most impressive year of friendship braceleters you've ever seen. Any of the bracelets that I make, most of these girls can too. They have their own special clipboards and rolls of tape, they've got patterns saved on their phones or printed out and many of them carry around rings of their stockpile bracelets. They're hardcore.

KCraig and Jesse came to play with us on this National FBC Day! She loves all of these Wyld Life kids and FBC girls and I'm so thankful that she makes it a priority to come hang out with us.

FBC wasn't only celebrated at HSJH today but all over the country. Friends set me texts or snapchats and I saw their Instagram posts too.

Cara wore her Varsity frocket to school in Chicago. Katy was, "sick and contagious on National FBC Day with nobody to give bracelets to."

Frances and Ellie represented the FBC at Carmel HS. Tori was creative with all of her string and spelled out our day.

Hallie and Lexie rocked bows and bracelets together at Kokomo HS. Grace is super excited about having a whole new stash of the "good" kind of string.

Ellyn worked on the new 4-square pattern during her lecture at IU. She's going to make a whole bunch of bracelets so she can take cool pictures of all of them together like us.

FBC girls posted pictures from our pictures outside once they got home. Malena moved to North Caroline this year and today she celebrated with a friend at Charlotte Catholic High School.

Sisters Emily and Ava Peterson are total rockstars. They've both been my camper at Tecumseh as Braves, Blazers and CILTs. I love their family and these creative captions for today.

I support Hannah's new rules of FBC but we'll have to remind her that Rule #1 is you can't keep bracelets (because then they would be Yourself Bracelets) and Rule #2 is you can't ask someone for a bracelet.

KCraig's son Jesse got to be in two National FBC posts today with Maggie and Silvana.

Frances' celebrating might have made her go a little crazy today too-- we support that.

I let Mia use me like a jungle gym. Emily Sell and Ava caught a pic right before they left Noblesville HS this afternoon.

Kat came to FBC for the very first time today-- just in time for our National holiday.

We're a little bit rebellious today-- Grace and Mer got on the bookshelves, Hailey and Taylor snuck into my classroom to take their pic.

Taylor Fischl repped the FBC at Geurin Catholic HS. Lulu and Audrey are HYPE because there's no such thing as too much FBC.

Lexie made this totally impressive color wheel set of earthquake bracelets. She's a CILT in Session 2 this summer and planning to give bracelets to all of her adopted campers and counselors.


 Lucy, a CILT from this past summer, rocked her friendship bracelets today at Brownsburg HS.

Shanztherapper was bursting with FBC love up in Chicago.

Buddy, my friend Molly Henry's puppy, was dog tired after so much National FBC Day excitement. You should give him an Instagram follow @kingbuddythecav and he'll totally follow you back.

Lucy Welch is celebrating IN MEXICO! WE'VE GONE INTERNATIONAL PEOPLE! Emily Harlow is celebrating over at Ball State while enjoying an early Easter Egg Hunt.

On National Friendship Bracelet Day 2015 I made two bracelets, got one from a sweet 7th grader and somehow didn't manage to give anyone-- I'll make sure to do that tomorrow. I got to celebrate with dozens of friendship bracelet lovers near and far. We represented 6 years of friendship bracelet history. Peace, love and friendship bracelets.