Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"I look for a friend who plays Mario Kart because I like playing Mario Kart."

Varsity FBC girls are incredible. I'm proud that Mollie and Ellyn are both part of this squad. Varsity girls are working on making bracelets for patients at Riley Children's Hospital this month. If you want to add to our collection let me know!

One of my old CILTs, Maggie Kroeff, became a camp counselor this past summer. Today she tagged me in an article she wrote called Why I Owe It All To My Camp Counselors. I love all things camp, especially reading about camp from someone else's perspective. Maggie is someone that I look up to and admire even though she's significantly younger than me. She's kind, patient, helpful, humble, driven, loyal and creative.  My favorite part of the article came after it was over in her bio: Maggie Kroeff-- Majoring in being myself and loving the life I was given.

Her article is awesome. Go check it out. Maggie is on the right of the picture below when she was a CILT in 2014. She's currently a freshmen at St Louis University.

This morning as first period was just beginning I said, "Hey guys, want to skip school?" Now I realize that's probably not what a teacher is supposed to say to their students... but sometimes you've just got to be honest. My kids suggested going to Florida or to iHop so we made a reasonable compromise and went outside to write instead.

Tonight we finally got back to Wyld Life Campaigners. The adult leaders and HS disciples meet before to have dinner together and tonight we got into one of the best, deep thinking conversations we've ever shared. We talked about a hypothetical, real situation that our team is facing and asked for their input and opinions. What unfolded was the realization that there may be no right answer and there are just pros and cons to the situation. Sometimes life isn't just black and white, sometimes in the gray areas we have to make room to have a conversation and walk through the tricky stuff together.

I love when my students show up to Wyld Life. Tonight there were a handful of new kids there and I was so happy when I saw them getting out of their parents' cars. It's the best getting to be Brookie Cookie, Kayleigh and Claire's teacher and one of their Wyld Life leaders. This was my dream years ago and I don't want to take it for granted.

We had quite the crew of 7th and 8th grade guys show up tonight. Conner couldn't be with us, but Jacob and Zach rocked leading them like pros. I think this experience is just as shaping and powerful for the HS students as it is for the Junior High kids.

Lauren Feldmen has been leading Young Life with us for almost a year now but tonight she decided to come check out Wyld Life too. This friend is incredible and I love getting to do so many things with her. Tonight she leaned over during dinner and whispered, "Do you realize we've eaten two meals together today?!" Can't wait to be at Tecumseh with her next week.

Hannah Reed got to come to Campaigners again tonight and I was ecstatic. This girl is a gem and someone that I look up to even though she's so much younger than me.

I love watching all the leaders and kids greet each other, laugh, make new friends and run around as people arrive. I love that we've got kids from all four Junior Highs in Fishers.

I love that our Junior High and High School kids are getting to know each other and looking forward to seeing each other. Tonight when all the HS kids stood up during announcements I had the Junior High kids raise their hand if they could name one of them. Every single High Schooler, and there are a lot of them, was named by a 7th or 8th grader. That's pretty awesome.

These are my kind of people. Like Chloe said tonight, "Leading other people has given me so much joy and made my faith so much stronger."

You were made for this. You are loved. You belong here. This is the Wyld Life family.

We gather downstairs in the basement to go through announcements, introduce leaders, sing and listen to the story of one of the HS leaders. Everyone packs in on the couches, the floor, the pool table, the treadmill and it's just so beautiful. We love this.

Tonight Hannah shared her story of what life was like as a Junior High kid, how God has moved in her life an where she's at now. Listening to a different High Schooler each week of Campaigner's is becoming one of my favorite parts. I love hearing them reflect back on their own lives and seeing them recognize where God has shown up along the way.

I got to sit a room tonight with some of my HS friends and a small army of Junior High girls. They're funny and quirky and brilliant and enthusiastic and I love these conversations. Tonight we talked about the gift of the Holy Spirit that Jesus asked God to send in his place and what that means for us.

I love that Wyld Life is awesome not because we love Wyld Life, but because we love Jesus. From greeting kids in the driveway to praying together in a circle, we're introducing them to a God that knows them and loves them. I'm so lucky to be a small part of that.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"That's not your dog. Stop this nonsense."

The best days are when my life gets to Overlap with really great people. I was talking to my friend Megan today about how while our jobs and careers are important, it's the rest of the stuff that fills your life that can really make it wonderful. Today was packed with great things.

I visited FCA before school for the first time this morning. It's sponsored by one of my teacher friends Brandi and run by a group of HS students including Hannah Wallen, Keziah, Jake and Will. They're phenomenal and I'm so impressed that they took this on for the year. 

At the start of class today we watched Street Compliments and then wrote compliment notes to people for 10 Minute Write. I have my students deliver their notes in a sneaky way so the recipient will find it later on. I was out putting my notes in kids' lockers and was happily surprised I found one left behind on my desk for me. 

It's homecoming week around here and this year the Clubhouse is following the same theme days as the HS. Today for Hawaiian/Tourist Day I went all out and basically wore what I'd wear on a normal day at summer camp plus the Hawaiian shirt. I love the times when I get to run into Emily Babb in the hallway because her enthusiasm and positivity is contagious. 

After school I got to hang with Megan Cook. Sometimes we both can't believe that the other person wants to be friends with us. We're both kind of crazy and we usually agree about the stuff that really matters and we just get each other. As a counselor, teacher and YL leader I get to engage with kids all the time and hear their stories. Something special about Cookie is that she always asks about my life and my story and wants to really get to know me. I can't wait to be at Tecumseh with her next week.

Molly Brunner has always been my kind of music person so when she told me to listen to Broken Arrows by Avicci I knew it was going to be good. She was so right. I might have had a little dance party in my classroom at the end of  my prep period. You can expect this song to be added to my regular playlist.

The Clubhouse volleyball team played at home tonight for the last time this season. I love supporting these girls and wouldn't miss it. Lucky me, I got to sit in the stands with Caroline Shumaker who I haven't seen in far too long. Claire is a manager for the team and one of my current 7th graders. This sister pair is pretty phenomenal and I love their creative, kind, optimistic, humble hearts.

Finally I ended up at the HS for the Varsity's show down against Delta. The game was intense and it was the first match of the season I've watched that went to 5 games. Not only did I get to sit by all my Freshmen YL girls, but I hung out with Julia, Katy P and Hope the whole time. These girls have been main characters of my life for five or six years now and I just love them. They're adventurous and nuts and they steal my popcorn and they're full of so much potential.

I hope that how ever you're spending your days you're making sure you overlap with people you love. Today is worth celebrating, showing up is worth it and taking care of your home team matters.

Monday, September 28, 2015

"This is my trash bag jersey. I'm going to frame it like Lebron's and hang it on my wall."

Pizza and Young Life. Two of my favorite things in the world. Rest assured, YL Pizza Club was a success.

I text my YL kids during the day to remind them to come to Club but I never really know who will show up until I come downstairs from leadership. I was pumped to see Hools and Alli Sams right away. Hannah was so excited to have Bethany and Dalton here with her. 

I was blown away and ecstatic about the Freshmen girl army that showed up tonight. I've been lucky enough to be leading girls in this grade for three years now and they've got a big chunk of my heart. I love coming to their volleyball matches and cross country meets, going to dinner together or traveling to camp. They are phenomenal.

Boys are really good at running around and playing sports before Club starts. Boys are not really great at freezing so I can take a picture of them all. It's a challenge to ever get a picture of all the boys in attendance because two thirds of them won't stop moving long enough for me to take it.

Every game of the night involved some kind of pizza. First Eli, Dalton and Jack assembled and fed Pizza Lunchables to the blindfolded Nat Rat, Sophia and Cassidy. It was a saucy, cheesy mess of a race and it was incredible.

The Italian brothers Fettuccine and Alfredo spent the night with us, officiating the Pizza Olympics. We ordered pizzas from Marco's, Hot Box and Pizza Hut. When a pizza arrived we stopped what we were doing, raced to make a tunnel and ushered in the delivery person. Fettuccine and Alfredo presented each one with a medal, tested the pizza and asked them a few questions.

Next four teams raced in a relay obstacle race across the gym to scarf down a bagel bite and then run back through the course to tag their next teammate.

Wes wasn't quite sure what to make of things when he arrived with the next pizza. He was a great participant and joined right in with Fettuccine and Alfredo's Italian accent.

Instead of a normal raffle, we played Deal or No Deal with Hot Box pizza boxes. On your turn you picked a random pizza box to open up. If there was nothing inside you were eliminated and had to sit back down. If you found something inside like a magazine or a Chik-Fil-A gift card you can either keep it or take a risk and open another box which might have something you like better or it might be empty.

About 16 kids got to have a turn opening boxes and trying to find something they'd want to keep.

These are just some of our prize winners with a dollar, friendship bracelets, McDonald's gift cards, a chocolate bar, Sour Patch kids and a new Wyld Life tshirt.

Our last game of the night had a twist that no one saw coming. Taylor Pozzebon stepped up first to get blindfolded. She was timed as she smelled, tasted and identified different pizza toppings-- pepperoni, cheese and mushrooms.

Jacob Ruby went next and beat her time by 20 seconds.

Colton Thomas went third for the grand finale. Little did he know that after the mushrooms we handed him a bowl with a live mouse. You can imagine his shock when he went to reach for it and grabbed onto a moving, breathing mouse instead of another pizza topping.

Taylor loves all living things and volunteered to take the mouse home as a new pet. Hopefully her parents were happy about her prize from club. 

I love doing life with these people. I'm so thankful for a partner in crime like KCraig that has my back and is always up for anything. I love her craziness and unpredictability.

I'm such a fan of Kegley and Cassidy. These two girls are both secretly hilarious, consistently awesome and the kind of people you want to be friends with. Tonight I'm thankful for Club and pizza and this Young Life family.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

"The last group got 22 people in the Wolve's Den so you've got to beat them."

For the first time in five years I'm not leading a Junior High morning bible study. I'm still doing Wyld Life every week, but it's honestly a nice break right now to not be doing an extra weekly meeting. The great thing is I'm now available to occasionally drop in and visit the bible studies that KCraig and Jackie are leading. This week I hung out with a group of 8th grade girls at the Devoe's before school as they started their new study in a book called Dwell. 

Friday night Julia and I headed to Zionsville to visit Tecumseh friends at the HSE v. Zionsville football game. While Emma and Maggie were CILTs we'd planned that I would come hang out with them on this night. I've been visit Zionsville for CILT girls for years and tonight there were soooo many camp friends in attendance. We spent most of the night with Emma and Maggie aka Big Girl and Big Girl. I was pumped to see Leonard sisters Colleen and Annie. 

I spotted Anna Firmani right as I walked in and we both almost burst into tears. She's actually a freshmen at Butler now but was home visiting for the weekend. I haven't seen her in way too long and love this girl so much. Mollie is a new Varsity recruit and a pen pal of mine this year and we were so excited to see each other. 

Julia Plant was on homecoming court during half time and we all screamed for her from the bleachers. She is a gem and someone I'm always learning from.

At one point I gathered as many of our camp friends together as I could-- such a crew of rock stars. I love this Camp T family.

I ran into my friend Emily too, who doesn't even go to Zionsville or HSE, but I was pumped to see her and her friend Amy. They were both sporting double earthquake bracelets they had made each other-- an automatic ticket into the last few spots of Varsity for this year.

Saturday morning we ate donuts together, sent Mags off to cheer and left Emma with Tom and Jerry in the "student section." Julia and I had a whole packed day ahead.

Next we met up with the Andritsch fam at a Team Luke event for kids based off of American Ninja Warrior. While the kids were running the course, Hools, Fudge, Claire and I cheered them on at the end of the sprinting course in the parking lot. A bit of dancing and singing may have been involved.

Then we met up with KCraig, Rachel and Alex at Mama Bear's for a meeting about our trip to Ethiopia with Young Life Expeditions this Spring Break. We're at the point where we're committing to go and figuring out who our team will be. Joining the five of us will be Mitch, Nat Rat, Kaitlyn, and two friends KCraig met at TWL this summer. We're asking a few more people and there are still spots open if you're interested. I can't wait.

Saturday night Julia, Katy and I met up at iTown for their At The Movies series. We got pop and popcorn, watched part of the movie the Edge and listened to their pastor connect it back to God and our lives. It kind of reminded me of a Rob Bell Nooma video. Northview is my church home, but it was fun to get to show up here tonight and see friends that are so excited about this church family.

The night wasn't over yet. We headed to The Cake Bake Shop in Broad Ripple to meet up with Lilly Waltman and her friends for her birthday party. Lilly works at Cake Bake so it only makes sense that her cake would be from here. We all got a slice of six layer caramel cake and it was delicious. The best part was getting to sit and talk with Lilly, her mom and her friends.

Early Sunday morning I woke up and drove to the Andritsch fam's house. Grace and I plotted a caper to surprise Fudge on her birthday. I hid in the back of Grace's car and she woke up Fudge for a secret adventure. They had just barely pulled out of their driveway when I reached over the seat and pulled on Fudge's hair. She made a gagging noise at first and then was just so excited that I was somehow in the car with them. We went to breakfast at Sunrise Cafe and laughed and told stories like you only can with the Andritsch girls.

Today was the last official training of our FCJH and HIJH counselors for the Camp T Field Trip. This training took us all the way out to Tecumseh with the rookie counselors so we can walk the grounds, review lessons and make sure they feel confident about where everything is located. This is my very favorite place.

Ellyn came traipsing through the woods to meet me as we were walking down the switchbacks just after the Wolve's Den. I made all the counselors give her high-5s and then they all chanted "Who do we love? Ellyn!" She's the best.

In recent years, as I've gotten to know more of them, the counselors have become one of my favorite parts of this trip. I love getting to see them leading study groups, getting the whole dining hall to do flies and then be ridiculous in skits on the last night. In just a week, I'll be living the dream with some of my fav YL kids and old students at the best place in the world. This is one of the extremes of different parts of my life overlapping.

When I got back to Fishers I met Emily and Amy for dinner (Yes, the two girls from the game on Friday). They both bought their Varsity shirt and one of our new HSE Wyld Life tshirts that just came out this weekend. We sat and talked for nearly two hours and it was the perfect ending to the weekend. Please notice Emily and Amy's Chaco's below--they're very proud of them.