Monday, November 30, 2015

"If your parents are upset, don't have them call us."

Sometimes Young Life takes a field trip. We break the norm and find a new location for the night. Instead of meeting at the Barn this week, we stormed Dairy Queen for the Grillest and Chillest of all Clubs. The employees and managers were ready for us, but it was still a beautiful picture of chaos.

Every booth and chair was filled with our people-- leaders and HS kids of every age filling up on blizzards, fries and onion rings. Dairy Queen was really the only fast food place in Delphi (where I grew up) for most of my life, so this is my jam.

Before the kids arrived we wrote "YL" on about 200 spoons and hid them everywhere inside and outside of the building. We unleashed all of the kids to hunt down the spoons in 90 seconds. David Bock, with the help of Nick Krauter, pulled out a victory.

Then we had an Arctic Rush Brain Freeze Face Off. Team Lime was comprised of Troy (freshmen), Meghan (sophomore), Mark (junior) and David (senior). Team Cherry was Taylor (freshmen), Cassidy (sophomore), Julia (junior) and Blaire (senior).

It was so many levels of sick. Brain Freeze- check. Cough syrup flavor- check. Slushie all over your face and sweatshirt- check. Arctic Rush all over the floor- check.

We screamed and cheered and laughed and in the end it was so close. David Bock down the last of the lime slush for a win for his team.

We played some Leader Trivia and kids buzzed in to win hot eats and cool treats from DQ. Do you know who has calves that are different sizes? Do you know who was asked to be an extra in a bollywood movie? Do you know who didn't try salad till they were in college? Who can speak using only quotes from friends?

Then some very brave friends stepped up for a blindfolded blizzard test. They ate a spoonful of blizzard and had to identify the flavor. Do you think you could name butterfinger, oreo or bannana split? How about an onion ring and chili flavored blizzard? Yep, that happened.

Joey Tharp gave the Club talk tonight about his brother and overwhelming hope. He said so many people ask but don't get to the seeking part of, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7-8. He told us about how in his own life he has seen God's power and grace shine through in the perseverance, joy and hope of his parents and brother. It was amazing.

Tonight at 12:00 am the online sign ups for Young Life, Wyld Life and Wilderness go live. Camp trips have become one of my favorite parts of being a leader and I can't wait for our kids to travel to Clearwater Cove in Missouri, Timber Wolf Lake in Michigan and Wilderness Ranch in Colorado this summer. I love that we get to do this together-- both summer and life during the rest of the year. It's such a gift.

One of my biggest dreams is finally coming true. For years I've been wishing and hoping and praying about going to Wilderness to hike with my girls that I've been leading since they were in 7th grade. It's happening. Oh my gosh-- WE'RE GOING TO CLIMB A FREAKING MOUNTAIN TOGETHER.

Honorable Mention Blog Title:
"You can use that gift card tonight or elsetime."

Sunday, November 29, 2015

"I'm feeling left out by Oscar."

I got home to Indianapolis just in time to see Hannah Conrad before she headed back to Alabama. I hate that I don't get to see her all the time any more, but I love that we make time for each other when she comes back to Indiana. We thought about chopping my hair, but got too busy doing other things so that will have to wait. I love that whether we're running errands, talking in the car or exploring in Carmel we always have fun together. 

We met up with Ashley at Vitality Bowls, their favorite place, so they could fulfill their craving before heading back to school. I'm such a fan of Ash and so thankful we became friends at the end of last year.

I rescued Maddie and Cami from Maddie's little cousins for a sushi-Goodwill-McFlurry-KCraig-stalking adventure. This pair is ridiculous. I love that they're silly together and that they've created a friendship where they can be honest and trustworthy. We watched the Family Stone with Maddie's parents (I'm such a fan of them too) which is one of my mandatory Christmas season movies. 

Rachel Kent asked me if we could get some camp friends together for lunch on Sunday so we called in all the troops and met up at Patachou. I walked in the door to find Rachel already there, clipboard in lap, diligently working on a friendship bracelet. Usually I'm at that person so it made me so happy to see her there tying knots.

Alli was about to head back to school but she got to come eat with us first. I have missed this friend and it was so good to reunite. I had some of the best memories with her this past summer and I'm so thankful for her friendship. I can't wait to live up the CILT reunion with her in just a few weeks.

 We got to see Anna, Kathryn and Casey from Session 1, Caroline from Session 2 and Lilly, Rachel and Emily from Session 3. There were old stories, new connections and a lot of laughter shared around the table. Alli and I are the lucky ones because we know all of these girls, but we love watching all of them interact.

It seems like we were just in the River Village together-- playing games on the Longhouse porch, singing in the party room, praying in the green cathedral, jumping off the diving boards and playing with kids in Main Field. Soon enough we'll be running to our friends as they arrive in Lake Village for the best 25 hours of the year. 

Just a few doors down from Patachou, Ellyn was busy at work at Old Navy. We bopped in to see her while she worked the register. Ellyn's a great multi-tasker.

Did you hear Genna has been in London? It's true.

I got to see Genna and Anne Sunday night for a grand finale of Thanksgiving Break. These two are so different in so many ways but are such great friends to one another. I'm lucky to be living life with them.

Honorable Mention Blog Titles:
"My grandpa wears necklaces and I do not like him."
"I don't have a disability, my brain is just slow."
"True or False: Genna used to put all the names of her best friends in her bio on Instagram."

Friday, November 27, 2015

"I'm thankful for the mandatory fun you bring into my life."

Casey and I met when she was a freshmen at Hope. I was a Junior at the time, finally an upperclassman. But even with the age gap, Casey and I soon became best friends. We went to church and chapel together, always sat beside each other in class, adventured to her lake house in Grand Haven and spent countless hours drinking coffee and writing Top 10 lists. Now we visit when I'm up in Michigan, especially over Thanksgiving Break. 

Not only were we SIBs together but we also spent a summer working at Tecumseh together when Casey was a Warrior counselor. We don't see each other that often anymore, but she's one of those friends that will always be so important to me. Today we met up at our usual spot for coffee and talking and list making. I love that Casey has always been such an intentional, introspective and dream pursuing kind of friend. She makes the world a better place.

We walked around 8th St and I found cards that made me think of friends. Someday I think I'd like to have a career designing cards, journals and calendars.

Before Casey and I parted ways I dropped her off at LJ's to meet up with two other old Hope friends--Ali and Kaitlyn. I was so happy to see them, if only for a few minutes. Ali and I were Rush chairs together and great friends while I was at Hope. Now I see her life from afar via social media, but I still think the world of her. Hope introduced me to some pretty spectacular people.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I love...

Many, many moons again when Sarah Fitzpatrick and I were counselors together we would do a devotion about thankfulness and gratitude. In an exercise first introduced to her by her mother, Fitz would have our campers write a list of 100 things they loved. We invited them to keep working on their list all week long and even once they went back home. "Maybe someday," we told them, "You'll get all the way to 1,000 things you love."

Ellie Vandenberg and Mary Brody were the first to accomplish the impossible task. I've had a small group of other campers complete their lists and nearly a dozen students who stepped up to the task.

On the last day before Thanksgiving Break I once again had my students start their lists of things that they love. Maybe some of them will get to 1,000 before we get back to school on Monday. In the spirit of Thanksgiving and choosing to be grateful, here are some of the many things I love.

  1. The Longhouse porch
  2. wearing socks with Birks
  3. Patagonias
  4. stickers all over my water bottle
  5. Maddie Halkyard's laugh
  6. doing life with Maddie Halkyard
  7. Ellyn's quirkiness
  8. the way Ellyn effortlessly compliments and encourages people
  9. notes from my students
  10. the healing power of Diet Coke when I'm feeling stressed
  11. #tecumsehtuesday on Instagram
  12. Libby Grace's acceptance of her new name
  13. when Brooke hides before 1st period
  14. texting with Fitzie 
  15. bringing back scrunchies
  16. Chloe's bold questions
  17. KCraig's dance moves
  18. the Old Hag's confidence
  19. reuniting with campers like Mary Cate and Sally
  20. hearing Liz say, "SAR-ah" all over camp
  21. new wrists of friendship bracelets every summer
  22. spontaneous dance parties
  23. taco triangles for lunch at school
  24. finishing three friendship bracelets in a day
  25. when kids low key whip in class after they do well on a paper
  26. my teacher friends
  27. getting steps with Trulock during passing period
  28. hanging out at FBC on Thursdays
  29. the members of Varsity FBC
  30. monthly Varsity FBC projects that help others
  31. talking to Jessica when she shows up in my classroom every period
  32. getting steps during CNN student news
  33. Shonda Rhimes "Year of Yes"
  34. Grey's Anatomy- Mer and Christina forever
  35. Gilmore Girls- oh holy I love Rory and Lorelei
  36. Julia Roberts
  37. Reece Witherspoon
  38. Bob Goff and everything about him
  39. calling Bob Goff with people
  40. Glennon Doyle Melton, momastery and "Carry On, Warrior"
  41. pictures all over my classroom and apartment
  42. my Keep Exploring flag
  43. I finally get to go on Wilderness this summer
  44. CILT graduation songs
  45. Alli Kenney singing at chapel
  46. Kid President videos
  47. hiking to the Gish with CILTs
  48. best friend necklaces with Ellyn, Arielle and Smoon
  49. surprising the kids in my YL cabins with friendship bracelets
  50. BFF Hannah Conrad
  51. strawberry lemonade
  52. calling Audrey "Fudge" 
  53. Grace Andritsch's love for people
  54. Shauna Niequist's writing
  55. CILT Reunions in December
  56. theme dinner outfits
  57. singing on chairs in the dining hall
  58. singing Taylor Swift in the car at the top of your lungs
  59. one on ones at YL Camp
  60. Real Life at YL Camp
  61. Big Cookie when we eat it all at once
  62. side pony braids
  63. nike shorts and party tanks every day at camp
  64. pepperoni pizza multiple times a week
  65. love tank notes
  66. the Welch sisters
  67. the Hendricks sisters
  68. getting Happy Mail envelopes every month
  69. Clarence stories
  70. having Haleigh Devoe cadet teach in my class
  71. living in Choctaw with Ellyn multiple summers in a row
  72. forever loving Annie Fazzio
  73. the way Maggie Shadid makes everyone feel so loved
  74. Hannah Blachly's selflessness
  75. my neon backpack covered with friendship bracelets
  76. Gold Rush dance parties
  77. Empire plotting
  78. Plunder scheming
  79. RFAJWD
  80. chapels in the Green Cathedral
  81. Day Camp shadow day
  82. watching my campers grow up and become counselors
  83. Nikki Lanigan Jones' wisdom and laughter
  84. hugs from Riley Meyer
  85. always wanting more time with Maggie Drake
  86. when FAB clinic is full of all my fav kids week 9
  87. finishing a whole session of CILT Parent Letters
  88. immediately being friends with Emma MacAbee and staying friends all year
  89. Tecumseh staff apparel 
  90. going downstairs in the Barn after leadership to greet kids
  91. Campaigners in the cubby room
  92. Sophomores and Seniors last year
  93. Juniors and Freshmen this year
  94. Hannah Devoe's awareness and intricate bracelets
  95. throwing up the peace sign to Mer in the hallway
  96. hanging out with Grace Freund
  97. talks with Sydney and our pose for pictures
  98. Christian concerts with Liz Huston
  99. overlapping in every part of life with Hools
  100. Megan Cook "I freaking love you"
  101. being friends with Emily Glanders for years and years
  102. KCraig's vision, honesty and dance moves
  103. top 10 lists with Casey Dawson
  104. the Houghton's example for life
  105. Sarah, Ben and baby Annie-- one of my favorite families of all time
  106. my home team: Arie, Smoon and Ellyn
  107. Brookie Cookie-- one of my favorite people on the planet
  108. running charades at the winter staff reunion
  109. waking up at a cabin at Tecumseh and knowing you get to be there all day
  110. Thursday night cook outs in Main Field
  111. Erin O'Awesome "Can I get a what-what?!"
  112. Hope College Dimnent Chapel 
  113. starting the day with a vanilla latte
  114. Taylor Time
  115. when kids make bracelets during class when they finish all of their work
  116. painting canvases for people I love
  117. long talks with Rachel Phillips and her old soul
  118. Chipotle burrito bowl with white rice, black beans, chicken, pico, cheese and guacamole and chips
  119. Modern Family
  120. Parenthood
  121. Scandal and Olivia Pope
  122. Friends
  123. Parks and Rec
  124. hanging out with my sister Katie
  125. Chik Fil A waffle fries and chicken nuggets
  126. road trips with surprise friends
  127. dinner dates with Cami
  128. wooden nametags with friendship bracelet string lanyards
  129. watching kids grow up summer after summer at Tecumseh
  130. reading Tecumseh Tales when Mike publishes a new issue
  131. having kids write about why they love Young Life
  132. Rest Hour Best Hour
  133. emails from campers after they've gone home
  134. Sagamore Creed beads on my Sperrys
  135. cheering for all 5 HSE Volleyball teams
  136. cross country meets
  137. chaperoning the Washington DC field trip
  138. traveling in an airport with 200+ people
  139. the hotel dance party
  140. the DC Monuments
  141. caricatures from 8th graders
  142. being a director for the Camp T Field Trip
  143. the Just Dance Competition
  144. getting to be at Camp for a whole week during the school year
  145. spending time with all of the HS counselors and seeing them lead study groups
  146. getting to Overlap with the OE staff
  147. Adventure Hikes with Ellyn and Choctaw
  148. fireworks over the Richard G during week 4
  149. church on Sunday my whole life long
  150. shopping at J. Crew and Madewell
  151. The Holiday
  152. You've Got Mail
  153. Runaway Bride
  154. Baby-Sitter's Club
  155. Adventures in Odyssey (especially with Ellyn)
  156. Enjoying the Small Things by Kelle Hampton
  157. Donald Miller's Storyline blog
  158. Ellison and Evie's giggles
  159. the precious friendship of Paige, Claire and Megan
  160. character studies on CNN Student News
  161. Dad's advice
  162. laughing till I cry
  163. quilts from mom
  164. movie premieres 
  165. anticipation
  166. still being friends with Krafty after meeting in CILTs 12 years ago
  167. running into Club at YL Camp
  168. talking to Jayla during passing period
  169. Gracie singing so loudly at Campaigners with Ryan
  170. listening to new songs like Love Yourself on repeat
  171. Taylor Swift and everything about her
  172. Hope College
  173. stories about the paper chain wars, scootering in the hall, Gold Dolphins, mentor girls and Willow Creek
  174. visiting Grandma in Hanover, NH
  175. the Wright Way
  176. Closing Campfire hype
  177. writing Top 10 Lists
  178. CILT girl devotions
  179. the first hour of CILT reunions when everyone arrives and freaks out
  180. KCraig's dance moves
  181. skiing at Crystal Mountain with my family over Christmas Break
  182. the Ellen show
  183. reading bed time stories to my campers every single night
  184. finding out about new people who read my blog
  185. Taylor Swift concerts
  186. hiking
  187. when Alli Kenney sings at chapel
  188. Mike Lang's creativitiy
  189. Joel and Tom's leadership
  190. showing up at the musicals and concerts of my students
  191. No Pants Wednesdays
  192. being friends with Diggy
  193. neon YL and CILT hats
  194. thinking about Ethiopia over Spring Break with the dream team
  195. stars over Main Field at night
  196. hanging out with my sister Katie
  197. living life with Anne and Genna
  198. sleeping in without an alarm
  199. when Haleigh laughs till she pees at camp
  200. hanging out in the shallow end of the pool or lake during swim time

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"OMG your picture you just posted of us has 150 likes. Are you famous?"

Lani Pickard-- one of the greatest humans I know. We met my first week at Hope College and continued to be close friends for the next four years. As Freshmen our windows faced each other across the Dykstra alley and we'd make each other signs in the windows. On a weekly basis we'd get hot drinks (latte for me and hot chocolate for Lani) at JPs and then walk 8th St. We ran together all over Holland including a dangerous adventure over a train bridge. We traveled together to the Dominican Republic, she helped me survive Spanish and she introduced me to Young Life.

After we graduated from Hope in 2009 I moved back to Indiana and Lani headed to South America. She's worked in different countries and with different organizations, but has always been making a huge impact on the world around her by loving people well and using her life to make a difference.

Our paths haven't crossed until tonight. She's back in the US for a few months and has made a cross country road trip. We overlapped in Holland on Tuesday night and we had to see each other. We haven't seen each other in 7 years, a thousand things have changed, but somehow it's like we're still the same.

Not only did I get to see Lani, but we got to hang out with Emily Scatterday (who is the other person responsible for my introduction to YL), her husband Brad and Leigh Austin (one of the funniest and sweetest people you will ever meet).  We went to New Holland Brewery, a favorite Holland spot, had a Royal Spoil of artichoke dip from Leigh, Lani got to eat veggies and I devoured my pepperoni pizza.

We talked about what our lives look like today and told stories from our time together at Hope. I laughed till I cried and I felt so embraced by these old friends. I'm so thankful that these girls became a part of my life years and years ago and that they had a role in shaping in who I am. This time with them was such a gift.

I'm spending Thanksgiving break with my parents in Holland and my nephew Redford. Katie, Nick and Linc are driving all the way to New Hampshire to be with our grandma for the holiday. Wednesday started with a breakfast date at the Rainbow Grill with Dean, Linda and Grandma Jo (Nick's family) and we passed off Redford to be with them for the next couple days. 

I toured Hope and downtown Holland today with mom and dad and saw all of our favorite spots. While standing in Phelps I saw KRose (my SIB mom who now works in admissions), then Anne (a younger SIB) and then Holly (who I met at Michindoh when she was on work crew)--such a small world and so many great people at Hope. Of course we had to pay a visit to Ellen and leave a note on Katie's desk in Dewitt too. 

Tonight we had a late birthday celebration at the home of my parents' friends Kathy and Steve, their parents and daughter. We had a delicious dinner, great conversation and a dessert of berry cobbler that I think I could happily eat every single day. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

"I love eating salads in my car."

This sign is for everyone who walks into the door tonight, but doesn't it just make you feel important? I love it. (Good work Ryan) And I think that it can be true about every single person. My night was better because Meric showed up. It got better when Cassidy Ogan walked in the door. I was happier when I saw that TGold was back from college. We are better as a family because of every single person. 

I love that as a mom, Dianne has a heart for impacting even more kids than just her own. I love that Hannah Lyon shows up regularly at YL these days with so much enthusiasm. I love that Elise and Gracie have become great friends through Monday nights. It was so fun seeing Tristan and JD back together-- such great friends. 

Ryan told us tonight that you never know who you might become friends with in this room. I think we forget that sometimes. Liz, Julia, Abby, Blaire and Cassidy all became friends with people through YL that they probably would have never met otherwise.

Molly brings Blake and Bo along with her when we're lucky and for friends like Es, it means we get to do even more life together. Ryan and Conner have this awesome friendship. Blaire, Bridget and Cassidy just can't get enough of each other.

Everyone sings along at YL, but tonight Ryan and Gracie had this duet thing going on and it was totally beautiful. Bob Goff always talks about the angels leaning over the railing, looking down on us, and I bet they were all stretching over tonight to listen to this room.

Tonight was extra special because my dear friend Cassidy Leum is home for break from IU and she showed up for Campaigners. I spent nearly every Monday night with her last year and I still feel her and her friends' absence here. They made such an impact on me and I love each of them so much. Tonight we sat side by side in our normal spot and it just felt like home. 

I got to talk with this group of girls tonight about thankfulness and blessings. It's ironic since Sophia, Mia, Cass, Silvana, Meric, JP, Brooke, Taylor, Scotlyn, Blaire, Julia and Olivia are some of the people I'm so thankful for. God calls us to live a life of gratitude, for our words and actions to reflect that thankfulness and to always point back to Him. I hope that we will always spur one another on to have that kind of heart. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

"My mom sent me a screenshot of your blog this morning."

My school is the best. Brookie proudly wears her hair like this after wellness. The orchestra teacher brought a Future Foot to school and our principal rode it down the hallway.

Haleigh shows up every afternoon with a smile on her face and makes 7th period the best one of the day. Even when it drives me mildly crazy, I love this school.

I finished Shonda Rhimes' Yes of Yes in just three days. It was incredible. I knew that a book written by her would be fantastic since the shows she writes are gold, but I wasn't sure what to expect. If you love Grey's Anatomy or Scandal, if you are a woman or a human, if you want to live a fuller life then this is worth the read. I will be talking about this book for months to come. 

Friday night I reunited with two of my favorite people on the planet. I became friends with Allison and Taylor nearly 7 years ago when they were Seniors in HS at Carmel. I got to be one of their YL leaders and it changed my life. They're out of college now, in dental school and working at a ranch, investing in people they love and still making me laugh with the way they fall into accents and never shy away from the truth. They're incredibly special. We sat and talked for hours and it was so, so good. Can't wait till I see them next. 

Saturday morning adult and HS leaders spent time together at the barn for our monthly leadership meeting. I love this time together and this morning I was particularly thankful that SO MANY PEOPLE showed up. It's powerful when we get to do this together. Our friend Lisa, who led with us for about a year, came to teach us about body language and non-verbal cues. It's incredibly applicable to what we do at YL every time we interact with kids and it opened up some doors for communication. 

Winter has officially arrived in the midwest with flurries of snow and Fudge couldn't be more excited about it. She was giddy about catching the giant flakes and knowing that Christmas is well on it's way.

Here is my most recent addition to the friendship bracelet stockpile. I'm now over 100 bracelets for the semester, well on my way to the goal of a stockpile of 200 for summer 2016. Once I get to that point, I'll start passing out bracelets to Junior High and Young Life friends the rest of the year. So many bright colors and patterns. If you were a bracelet, which one would you be?

Sunday morning Sophie and I got coffee together before church. I've know Soph for years as her teacher, bible study leader and Young Life counselor. I'm such a fan of her and I miss not seeing her as often this year now that she's in HS. It was so good to catch up and talk about life. I'm proud of her for making hard decisions, being self-aware and striving to be someone she can be proud of.

After church I got to have a lunch date with Julia which was great. I love doing life with her. Later we went back to church with Elise, their moms and Liz Huston for the first ever Fishers Campus Worship Night. It was a whole night of songs led by all of the worship team and it was phenomenal. At then end of the day I got to catch up with my far away friends Hannah, Smooney and Emma which always makes me happy. Life is good.